MSC Cruises Launches Coral Reef Sustainability Program on Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve

MSC Foundation has announced a new partnership with the University of Miami and Nova Southeastern University to support its Super Coral Research program, a sustainable environment motion which aims to address the decline of coral reefs around the world.

The graduate internship program would see a blended approach of virtual and on-site research and development activities at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve in The Bahamas. The agreement marks the implementation phase of the program.

“This partnership marks an important step forward in our commitment to implement a marine conservation program to reverse the steep decline of coral reefs around the globe, which threatens a quarter of all marine life,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, Chair of the MSC Group’s MSC Foundation Executive Committee, in a statement.

“The Ocean is in our DNA, which is why the Super Coral program is more than a local initiative to protect and restore the coral reefs around Ocean Cay and Florida. It is designed to build unique expertise in the study and practice of coral resilience, developing a model that can be successfully replicated around the world.”

The program aims to research, develop, test and refine methods to reverse the decline in coral reefs in the 64-square-mile marine reserve around Ocean Cay. It intends to pioneer the rebuilding of damaged coral reefs with coral species that are more resilient to environmental threats like ocean pollution and warming. These studies are the work in which the University of Miami Rosenstiel School and Nova Southeastern University scientists will be directly involved.

“The MSC Super Coral Program seeks to help restore coral reefs in The Bahamas to a healthy state through actively selecting for climate change resistant genotypes and enhancing sexual propagation of those genotypes,” explained Chris Langdon, Professor of the Department of Marine Biology and Ecology at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

The program includes:

  • The development of awareness-raising materials for Ocean Cay guests on the emergency facing coral reefs, their importance, and how to take action to protect them at individual and collective levels.
  • Beginning the building of a Super Coral Center (BioLab) at Ocean Cay, which includes the laboratory and coral nursery areas.

The goals of the Super Coral Program, which runs through 2024, are to:

  • Restore the coral reefs around Ocean Cay to become more resistant to environmental change;
  • Pioneer the use of hardy “Super Coral” species and varieties to increase the resilience of the reefs;
  • Develop and share a scalable replicable model to advance scientific understanding and promote thriving coral and marine restoration worldwide;
  • Promote public awareness of and action in support of marine conservation and coral reef restoration.

MSC Foundation notes that coral reefs are among the most diverse ecosystems in the world, which serve as a food and economic resource for half a billion people and protect coastal communities from storms and erosion. According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, scientists predict that 70-90% of coral reefs are in danger of dying out within the next two decades (2030-2050).

For more information on MSC Foundation, visit its web site.

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