MSC Celebrates Coral Nursery at Private Island in the Bahamas

Researchers at MSC Cruises' private island Ocean Cay Marine Reserve celebrate the successful beginnings of its coral nursery.

Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, the private island of MSC Cruises, was featured on NBC’s Today Show to celebrate the initial success of its pioneering coral nursery in the Bahamas. The Super Coral Program project, which started in 2018, aims to rebuild the coral beds surrounding MSC’s private island resort.

Cruise lines typically focus on a fun-filled day with pools, slides, and beach bars at their private islands. MSC’s Ocean Cay is focused on the environment on its private island, a sand-mining area before MSC Cruises took possession and developed it into a pristine natural area.

Super Coral Program

MSC Cruises and its non-profit organization, the MSC Foundation, have received widespread praise for the success of its Super Coral Program at Ocean Cay Marine Reserve. NBC’s Today Show showed a special on July 6, with researchers growing new corals that they hope will resist climate change’s effects.

The MSC Foundation established the Super Coral Program in 2018 to underline Ocean Cay’s commitment to sustainability

The program’s goal is to halt the global decline of coral populations. It involves growing sample specimens of Super-Corals on so-called “coral trees,” situated just below the surface of the protected waters encircling the island.

These coral trees are organized into nurseries where researchers keep tabs on critically-endangered species to understand their adaptation to ocean conditions, all in a bid to conserve existing coral populations and cultivate resilient coral.

The video highlights that several trees in these coral nurseries are now full of coral and demonstrating promising results. The Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve and MSC Foundation have plans to scale up these coral nurseries to 13 trees in 2023, aiming to produce over 1,100 coral fragments annually.

Ecosystems Struggling to Keep Up

The Super Coral Programme, initiated by the MSC Foundation, aims to safeguard marine ecosystems and coral beds, particularly around Ocean Cay in the Bahamas. Coral reefs, some of Earth’s most biologically diverse ecosystems, support over a million marine species and provide numerous benefits, from food supply and coastal protection to tourism. 

MSC's Ocean Cay Private Island
MSC’s Ocean Cay Private Island

Nevertheless, they are gravely endangered by destructive fishing practices, sedimentation, pollution, and climate change-induced bleaching events that harm and kill coral. 

Dr. Owen O’Shea, the Marine Program Research Manager for Ocean Cay, has this to say on the dire situation of Corals worldwide: “The problem we see in reefs is that the corals are struggling to keep up with their adaptive evolution. Some do it very well; they are incredibly resilient, others not so much.”

MSC Ocean Cay Marine Reserve

Ocean Cay, the base for the program, is a small sand island 20 miles south of Bimini in the western Bahamas and 65 miles southeast of Miami, Florida. The island was utilized as a sand mining site for nearly six decades before being abandoned in 2015. MSC seized this opportunity to initiate this ecological restoration program.

Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve
Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve (Photo Credit: Conrad Schutt)

The program offers Ocean Cay visitors the chance to learn about and experience marine conservation and restoration firsthand. Several of MSC’s cruise ships visit Ocean Cay regularly.

These include MSC Seascape sailing from Miami, Florida, MSC Seaside sailing from Port Canaveral, and MSC Meraviglia sailing from New York City.

While the focus is very much on marine preservation at Ocean Cay, cruise ship guests visiting the island can still have a great day out. The island features stunning white sand beaches, bars, restaurants, and various watersport activities such as stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, and more. 

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