Monthly Archives: March 2016

Eco Kids – Reef Balls at Paradise Cove

Another great article from the Bahamas.


‘Unsustainable Habitat Destruction vs. Artificial Reef Construction’ the topic for EARTHCARE Eco Kids this Easter weekend

Tuesday, 29 March 2016 07:51
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama — On March 26th, 2016, the EARTHCARE Eco Kids Saturday Environmental Education Programme continued at the Rand Nature Centre in conjunction with Cheri Wood, Certified Coral Propagator and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Navigators. Ms. Wood taught the combined group about the largest Reef Ball project in the country in our very own backyard. Ms. Wood, a Certified Coral Propagator, has been intimately involved in the Reef Ball project from its inception. She shared with the group many details of the very exciting science project located at Paradise Cove Beach Resort in Deadman’s Reef on Grand Bahama Island.

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force Navigators with Cheri Wood, Certified Coral Propagator, EARTHCARE Eco Kids with Gail Woon, EARTHCARE Founder and a Director of Save The Bays after an informative lecture by Cheri Wood on the Reef Ball project at Paradise Cove Beach Resort.After the informative lecture, the buses loaded up and the young people headed to the day’s destination: Paradise Cove Beach Resort. Gail Woon, Founder of EARTHCARE and a Director of Save the Bays gave the students a presentation on “Habitat Destruction” complete with visual examples from several Family Islands on the bus ride.“Habitat destruction is one of the five (5) main issues dealt with for Coastal Awareness month in April. Unfortunately, we have examples of unsustainable habitat destruction on many of our islands.

EARTHCARE Eco Kids Faciliatator, Tyrie Moss leads the kayak with passengers, Tylea and Rachelle Manchester out to see the Reef Balls in the glass bottom kayak.“The Bahamas has areas where our coral reefs have suffered immensely from unsustainable mega developments, nutrient pollution from land-based sources and are under threat of further destruction by unsustainable mega developers: Caribbean pine (indigenous/native species) forests that have been bulldozed for mega-projects that never materialized (Ginn Sur Mer, West End, Grand Bahama Island), extensive, valuable, healthy mangrove forests that have been destroyed for resort developments (Resorts World Bimini, North Bimini, a Genting Company) and precious blue holes that have been polluted and in some cases obliterated for various and sundry reasons, such as being used as waste receptacles for chemical companies and then closed with a covering of cement or being used as a garbage can for household refuse.

EARTHCARE Eco Kids, Team Leaders and Gail Woon, Founder of EARTHCARE at Paradise Cove Beach Resort after a fun day of learning and snorkeling on the Reef Balls.

“We were able to show the participants in pictures various examples of habitat destruction from Bimini, Abaco and Grand Bahama etc. Further we were able to suggest possible strategies that are available to the students empowering them to be proactive about their future and the future for their grandchildren,” she said.

Upon arrival at Paradise Cove, the proprietor, Barry Smith, explained proper etiquette and behaviour out on the delicate habitat in the water.

EARTHCARE Eco Kids preparing to snorkel on the Reef Balls with Gail Woon, EARTHCARE.

Reef Balls are used to increase biomass and biodiversity. These Reef Balls are designed artificial reef units. Currently there are over six hundred and thirty-two thousand (632,000) of these deployed in over sixty-two (62) different countries. Reef balls help restore our natural reef systems; they protect our shoreline during storm events and help to nourish the direct marine environment.

Opportunities are available for individuals and the corporate community to become involved in this amazing programme.

The Reef Balls at Paradise Cove Beach Resort with an abundance of fish life.

Mr. Barry Smith, the owner of Paradise Cove, saw the gradual degradation of the reefs off shore of the property over time. He did the research and started the Reef Ball Project at Paradise Cove, the largest one of its kind in the country.

Ms. Woon took the EARTHCARE Eco Kids out to snorkel on the Reef Ball reef that is now in place at Paradise Cove. The students were amazed to see all of the fish living in the Reef Balls.

L-R Cheri Wood, Certified Coral Propagator, Nathanael Smith, Designer of the official EARTHCARE Eco Kids T shirt and winner of the T Shirt Design Competition and Savanna Gibson, EARTHCARE Eco Kids Team Leader as they present Cheri with a shirt and Honorary EARTHCARE Eco Kids membership for her contributions to their learning about the Reef Balls on March 26th 2016.

Paradise Cove owner, Barry Smith, “It feels good to know that our youth are learning about the importance of the ocean and to see how they can make a difference. To me, that is the future for protecting our coral reefs and sustaining our future here in the Bahamas and even the world.”

This installation presents unique opportunities for Bahamians to acquire skill sets, like artificial reef building or coral transplantation, which will become a valuable asset as the nation moves forward; protecting, restoring and repairing the damages humans have inflicted to our beloved ocean.

L-R EARTHCARE Eco Kids, Nathanael Smith, Tylea Manchester aboard the back of Tyrie Moss, EARTHCARE Eco Kids Facilitator, and Rachelle Manchester, EARTHCARE Eco Kid.

Paradise Cove, west of Freeport, was the chosen site for this program due to the owners’ sponsoring abilities and the need of shore protection. Paradise Cove is a TripAdvisor top rated snorkeling destination for residents and tourists alike.

Tyrie Moss, EARTHCARE Eco Kids Facilitator assisted the EARTHCARE Eco Kid from the Beacon School, young Tylea Manchester. Tylea could not join the snorkel groups so Mr. Moss took Tylea and her sister Rachelle in a glass bottom kayak to see the Reef Balls up close.

Nathanael Smith, student from Martin Town Primary. Nathanael designed the EARTHCARE Eco Kids official T shirt, winning the T shirt Design Competition and a cash prize.

The EARTHCARE Eco Kids Team Leaders, Angelina Rahming, Kendira Gembalies, Havana Gibson, Samia Rampersad, Savanna Gibson, and Tristan Rampersad worked hard to keep the students organised and all agreed that they learned a lot during this exciting field trip.

What YOU can do:
• Pay attention to current events.
• Read the newspapers.
• Question everything as it relates to environmental concerns.
• Learn as much as you can about our different habitats so that you understand what it is that we stand to lose by Unsustainable Habitat Destruction.
• After you have educated yourself, spread the word and, teach your friends.
• Make a project of restoring a wetland or other habitat.
• Write letters to Government if you have concerns about any particular project.
• Start or sign a petition about your issue.
• Join an environmental NGO (Non Governmental Organization) such as EARTHCARE, Bahamas National Trust, Save The Bays, Friends of the Environment, BREEF and many others.

EARTHCARE Eco Kids snorkel over the Reef Balls.

EARTHCARE would like to acknowledge sponsors Paradise Cove Beach Resort, H. Forbes Charter, and most of all, Ms. Cheri Wood for all of her very hard work with the youth of The Bahamas. This work would not be possible without the cooperation and support from the parents/guardians of our EARTHCARE Eco Kids, we salute you! For more information on how to join, contact: Gail Woon, EARTHCARE,, or call 727-0797.

December Conference – Restore America’s Estuaries

RAE is an awesome organization and the cause is one everyone needs to get behind.    Please, mark your calendar and if possible offer some support with your sponsorship!


2016 Summit: Our Coasts, Our Future, Our Choice

December 10-15, 2016, New Orleans, LA

Marian Brister Martinez (Featured Artist)

> Sponsorships, Exhibiting, and Advertising Now Available! <

“We had a great time sponsoring and attending the RAE/TCS 2014 Summit. We enjoyed networking with colleagues about our recent projects and educating new friends about our technology. We came away impressed and enlightened by the diversity of groups and projects underway worldwide to restore our delicate estuary ecosystems. This event is the best venue for this information sharing and we look forward to the 2016 Summit.”

— LARRY BEGGS, Reef Ball Foundation

Why Sponsorship Matters?

Beyond supporting RAE and TCS and helping to underwrite the cost associated with the planning and oversight of the National Summit, sponsorship provides your company with a number of benefits unparalleled in the coastal restoration field.

From exhibiting in our award-winning expo and poster hall to participating in key events engaging our sponsors and exhibitors, you receive significant exposure and opportunities to network with key coastal decision makers. To check out our current list of Summit sponsors, visit here.

We have a wide-range of sponsorship opportunities to accommodate all budget levels, including

general and exclusive sponsorship packages.  On the exclusive sponsorship side, you can choose from a wide range of opportunities, including: climate partner, Wi-Fi, the restoration project, poster hall, Blue Room (media), coffee breaks, program tracks, and plenary, among others.

Hudson River OYSTERS article from Rutgers

Hudson-Raritan Estuary Oyster Reintroduction

Photo: Easter Oysters set on a research Reef Ball.The restoration of a variety of ecological systems located within the NY/NJ region is supported by a wide range of Federal, State, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Restoration of bivalves and subtidal habitat is a particularly important goal that contributes to improving water quality and supports commercially important fin fish and invertebrate species, while offering protection to vulnerable coastal shorelines and wetlands.

Oyster Restoration

In the brackish marsh ecosystem of the Hudson-Raritan Estuary (HRE), Eastern Oysters (Crassostrea virginica) were historically “Keystone Species”, or ecological engineers. Although today ecologically extinct from the HRE, continuing water quality improvements support reintroducing oysters to the estuary. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers draft HRE Comprehensive Restoration Plan (2009) calls for establishing 200 acres of oyster reef by 2020. CUES and NY/NJ Baykeeper have been collecting HRE oyster survival and growth data since 2006 and in 2013 will establish a 1/4-acre Raritan Bay restoration research test site at Naval Weapons Station Earle (NWSE).

Oyster Restoration Survey

In 2011-12 CUES and NY/NJ Baykeeper lead Citizen-Scientist volunteers in mapping over 30 miles of Raritan Bayshore to determine sites that might one day support oyster reintroduction. Twenty-three parameters were recorded and data was collect every 100 meters. An Oyster Restoration Index Score was calculated for all sampling locations and used to create the Oyster Restoration Survey Map. This map is the first attempt in the HRE to focus reintroduction toward locations that may have a high chance for success, and eliminate sites that are unsuitable. Further scientific vetting is needed before any of these locations could be considered for long-term oyster restoration.

Retrieved from Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.

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New option for old decaying seawalls.

Sarasota Bay Watch has been working with the Reef Ball Foundation and Reef Innovations in the development of a retrofit for existing seawalls, as a step toward a living shoreline.

Below is  a video explaining a project that will be hitting the water in the next month.


Video was retreived from Sarasota Baywatch

In many locations there is not an option to establish a living breakwater offshore and backfill to the existing seawall. This might be the best option. The project is labor intensive as modules are created then moved into place along the existing seawall.

More information is available on Eco-Rap from Reef Innovations.

Get to work on restoring salt marsh!

With more research showing the value of salt marsh we find they are important for carbon sequestration as well as protection from rising sea levels.

This report from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science  points to the resilience of salt marshes.


  • High and Low Marsh

Study predicts salt marshes will persist despite rising seas

Says traditional assessment methods overestimate vulnerability

A new study in Nature Climate Change contends that traditional assessment methods overestimate the vulnerability of salt marshes to sea-level rise because they don’t fully account for processes that allow the marshes to grow vertically and migrate landward as water levels increase.

The persistence of salt marshes despite rising seas would be a rare bit of good news for coastal ecosystems, which are under threat from a host of factors including nutrient pollution, invasive species, and development. Healthy marshes buffer coasts from storms, improve water quality, provide habitat for commercial fisheries, and help fight global warming by trapping carbon.

Lead author Matt Kirwan, a professor at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, says “Catastrophic predictions of marsh loss appear alarming, but they stem from simple models that don’t simulate the dynamic feedbacks that allow marshes to adapt not only to present rates of sea-level rise but the accelerated rates predicted for coming decades. Marsh soils actually build much faster as marshes become more flooded.”

Low-elevation marshes are where dynamic feedbacks operate most effectively to counter sea-level rise. ©M. Kirwan.
Low-elevation marshes are where dynamic feedbacks operate most effectively to counter sea-level rise. ©M. Kirwan.

More frequent flooding carries more mud into the marsh and also encourages the growth of several common marsh plants. Together, these processes raise the marsh soil in concert with rising waters.By not accounting for these feedbacks, Kirwan and his co-authors argue, traditional assessments greatly underestimate marsh resilience. Joining Kirwan on the study were Stijn Temmerman of the University of Antwerpen, Emily Skeehan of VIMS, Glenn Guntenspergen of the U.S. Geological Survey, and Sergio Fagherazzi of Boston University.

The team conducted their study by compiling and re-analyzing 179 previously published records of change in marsh elevation from sites in North America and Europe. “Our study shows that soil accretion rates more than double as marshes become more flooded, suggesting a strong ability for marshes to survive accelerations in sea-level rise,” says Kirwan.

“The most common models greatly overestimate marsh vulnerability to sea-level rise,” adds Guntenspergen. “These models assume that marshes rise, but only at a rate equal to recent measurements of marsh accretion. This approach leads inevitably to marsh drowning, and predictions that most tidal wetlands will be inundated by the end of the current century.”

The researchers say the few models that do incorporate dynamic feedbacks indicate that marshes can generally survive 10 to 50 millimeters of sea-level rise per year. That far exceeds current annual rates of about 3 millimeters of globally averaged sea-level rise, and mostly exceeds even the higher-end rates of 8 to 17 millimeters per year predicted by U.N. climate scientists for 2100.

The team suggests that use of these more advanced models will help ecosystem managers assess marsh vulnerability more accurately, and should be encouraged. They also recommend that researchers expand their current focus on the vertical adaptability of marshes by mounting studies that help clarify the processes that control the horizontal migration of marsh boundaries through time.

Looking at recent history, the researchers note that the feedbacks built into the dynamic models also help explain the observed stability of many salt marshes in the mid-Atlantic and elsewhere during recent decades, and the relative rarity of marshes that have already drowned. Where drowned marshes do occur—think the Mississippi delta or Venice lagoon—the culprit is a reduced sediment supply, due to dam or levee building, or increased subsidence due to groundwater withdrawal and other factors.

High-elevation marshes are more vulnerable to sea-level rise, but grow more resilient as they succumb to rising waters and are replaced by low marsh. ©M. Kirwan.
High-elevation marshes are more vulnerable to sea-level rise, but grow more resilient as they succumb to rising waters and are replaced by low marsh. ©M. Kirwan.

“Marshes fail to survive current rates of sea-level rise only where people have restricted sediment delivery or where the tidal range is very low,” says Kirwan.The researchers temper their optimism regarding vertical marsh growth with a cautionary note about the importance of allowing salt marshes to migrate horizontally as rising seas push them landward. They note that in low-lying areas of the U.S. Atlantic Coast, migration into nearby forests could offset most of the loss of existing salt marshes.

But marsh migration isn’t possible where obstructed by coastal cliffs or human barriers. “Almost 20% of the Chesapeake Bay shoreline is hardened by riprap, seawalls, and other structures,” says Kirwan, “and similar structures border almost all marsh areas in northwest Europe. We suggest that the availability of low-lying land for wetland migration is a first-order determinant of marsh fate.”


Retreived from:


Editorial Gives Thumbs Up to Reef Balls

Yesterday, the Carrol County Times Editorial gave a thumbs up to Reef Balls and highlighted an article from earlier in the week.   We at Reef Innovations and the Reef Ball Foundation are also excited about the great programs and support from the area.

Our view: We’re giving thumbs up for Reef balls,

Thumbs up: Masonry students at the Carroll County Career and Tech Center worked with Chesapeake Bay Foundation employees earlier this week to create concrete “reef balls,” which serve as artificial oyster habitats designed to not only restore the bay’s wild oyster population but also naturally clean up excess nutrients in the bay.

The Tech Center students planned to create 200 of the reef balls, which can each produce up to 2,000 oysters. Each oyster can filter 50 gallons of water a day. Westminster High School junior Josh Kosmicki, who is president of the school’s Coastal Conservation Association and reached out to the Maryland branch of the CCA to get the reef ball project moving, said he hopes it will help inspire students to be more bay-wise.

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Retrieved from:

2016 Training Career & Tech Students

In Carrol County Maryland students are learning and participating in the efforts to restore our Nation’s estuaries.  Projects across the Gulf of Mexico have also been looking to include vocational training as part of their Restore Act project proposals.     The Reef Ball Foundation and Reef Innovations have look at education as being an important part of all projects over the past 24 years.   Community participation leads to ownership of the project and greater success over time.

The video and article below were retrieved from  by Michel Elben Contact Reporter Carroll County Times

Click this link to watch the video

Carroll County Career & Tech students learn to construct oyster reefs

Michel Elben

Michel ElbenContact ReporterCarroll County Times

“The bay is such a delicate ecosystem. It needs our help.”

Carefully smoothing out concrete inside a bell-shaped structure with a rubber mallet, Francis Scott Key High School senior and masonry student Sarah Kramer worked with Chesapeake Bay Foundation employees Wednesday afternoon to create reef balls at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center in Westminster.

The reef balls are part of the Coastal Conservation Association of Maryland’s Living Reef Action Campaign.

“I’m happy to be part of a project that helps other people,” Kramer said. “I’m being taught how to make them, and I’ll teach other people how to put them together.”

Coastal Conservation Association of Maryland President Rick Elyer said the group partnered with Carroll County Public Schools about a month ago at the request of Westminster High School’s CCA club. Elyer said the group aims to restore nearly 3 million wild oysters to the Chesapeake Bay by creating an artificial reef.

Career and Tech students will cast 200 2-by-2-foot reef balls that CCA will place in the mid-Chesapeake Bay this summer. According to Elyer, an oyster can filter 50 gallons of water a day. One reef ball will produce 2,000 oysters, creating a natural mechanism to remove the bay’s excess nutrients.

Westminster High School junior Josh Kosmicki, who is president of the school’s Coastal Conservation Association, said he hopes this project will help inspire students to be more bay-wise.

“In Carroll County, because we’re not so close to the bay, we have trouble motivating people to get involved,” Kosmicki said. “I like the whole premise of the project. The bay is such a delicate ecosystem. It needs our help.”

While some students mixed cement donated by Lehigh Cement Co. in Union Bridge, CBF’s Oyster Restoration Coordinator Dan Johannes worked with Kramer and other students to affix a bell-like frame to plywood. CBF’s Patrick Beall sprayed the inside of the frame with sugar water and added sand to the mold to seal the bottom.

To create entrance and exit holes for the artificial habitat, the group inserted tetherballs and a large bladder ball into the mold. Then students shoveled and smoothed the cement in the structure, which was created with additives and aggregates from concrete supplier Thomas Bennett & Hunter Inc. in Westminster. After the structures dry overnight, students will deflate the balls and remove the reefs from the molds.

“This is awesome,” Johannes said. “It’s nice to see them getting involved in projects like this to save the bay. Their eagerness to learn is the best.”

Carroll County Public Schools Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Coordinator Bryan Shumaker said the reef ball project was great because of the multidisciplinary approach.

“The science and mathematics of mixing concrete is something we teach every day, but this project helps our students see how what they create can make an amazing habitat for dozens of different bay organisms,” Shumaker said.

Tech Center masonry instructor Mike Campanile said he and students are proud to be part of an environmental project.

“This is right up our alley,” Campanile said. “It’s cool to have them put their hands on something permanent that they can sign their names to. When they see headlines about the Chesapeake Bay restoration, they’ll know they’re part of it.”

North Carroll High School junior and masonry student Austin Lowe, who helped mix the concrete, said the project was something unique for the class.

“It was definitely different and something I’ve never done before. I think it was a good learning experience,” Lowe said.


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