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REEF Takes New Tack

A fantastic new marine science research opportunity is opening for Tabor students in March. Expanding on the REEF (Research & Environmental Education Focus) program we have been implementing over the past two decades in the USVI in collaboration with Tabor Boy, we are introducing a new program at Gerace Research Centre, on San Salvador, Bahamas. 
 
As a land-based program, we are hopeful that this option opens more opportunities for Tabor students to experience ocean ecology research while improving our understanding of Elkhorn and Staghorn coral and the environmental impacts on coral reefs. Two groups of students will have the option of attending a week-long program at Gerace Research Centre over spring break. Equipped with labs, snorkeling equipment, support boats, classrooms, dining facilities and dormitories, our students will have all the support they need to expand on our research project on the reefs in a new location with similar species and issues we encountered in the USVI on past REEF voyages.
 
As before, students will map and catalog areas of reef, applying our well proven techniques to collect actionable data. But at Gerace, there’s an exciting new twist. According to John Crosby, faculty and Research Director of our specific research project, “our new research proposal focuses on not only surveys, but on coral management. We’ve proposed the construction of a coral nursery, something that has never been done at the Gerace Research Centre. Coral fragments will be collected, genotyped and then grown in small nurseries. After one year of growth, they can be “outcropped”, or planted, in well-planned and biologically diverse “starter reef” communities. The goal is to re-establish healthy and resilient reef-building coral communities that will support the diversity of life for which these important ecosystems are so well known.” These methods have been successful in other locations, taking about two years to reestablish a healthy reef.  Please enjoy this short clip from NOAA about their successful nursery and outcropping activities.
 
It’s an exciting step forward for Tabor’s REEF program, and one we hope will allow us to engage in this work annually, either here at Gerace or through our traditional program with Tabor Boy in the Caribbean. Juniors and Seniors will have priority for the program this year.
While this program competes with many other engaging activities we provide over our vacation weeks in March from athletic training trips to cultural exchanges abroad, our students will certainly have plenty of opportunities to learn and grow off campus!
 
Here’s to looking forward to a wonderful spring break!
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