MSC Foundation Launches Super Coral Program on Ocean Cay

Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve - Photo by MSC Cruises

MSC Group’s MSC Foundation has announced the first phase of a new program that will support research and conservation efforts of coral reefs. This innovative project was created as a response to the emergency of coral reefs approaching an increasingly imminent extinction from climate change and pollution. The focus of the work of this program will be done at Ocean Cay, MSC Cruises’ private island in the Bahamas. 

This ‘Super Coral’ program is the result of a collaboration with the MSC Foundation and a team of scientists and environmental experts. The group has worked to identify hardy species and genotypes of coral, named ‘Super Coral’ which have survived recent extreme ocean heat events and other impacts in the waters around Ocean Cay. The program aims to “restore coral abundance and diversity around the cay by propagating and out-planting thermally tolerant coral species and genotypes.” 

To kick off the program, MSC Foundation has created a new graduate internship program with the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and Nova Southeastern University (Florida). Research and work will be done virtually as well as on-site at Ocean Cay. 

“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,” remarked Pierfrancesco Vago, Chair of the MSC Group’s MSC Foundation Executive Committee. “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 Super Coral program will research and create methods aimed at reversing the decline in coral reefs in the 64-square-mile marine reserve around Ocean Cay. Goals of the program aim to accomplish the following: 

  • Restore the coral reefs around Ocean Cay so they 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. 

The implementation phase of the Super Coral program will incorporate building the first part of the Super Coral Center (BioLab) at Ocean Cay, which includes a laboratory and coral nursery areas. This phase will also incorporate creating two literature reviews on coral reef restoration, as well as developing awareness-raising materials for Ocean Cay guests and the general public on the emergency facing coral reefs and how to take action. 

The timeframe of the Super Coral program is currently slated to run through 2024. 

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