The PUNTACANA Resort and Club, situated on the easternmost side of the Dominican Republic, is never in short supply of natural beauty.
The beaches that frame the picturesque Estate at PUNTACANA contain stunning white sand and clear blue water, but the gorgeous beaches are only a fraction of the natural wonder on display in Punta Cana. Situated just outside the coastline are coral reefs, which function as both a buffer from beach erosion as well as a complex and intricate ecosystem in the ocean.
The reefs, however, are in danger. A combination of expansion, overfishing, and climate change have all contributed to dwindling coral populations in the last few decades. Fortunately, help has come in the form of the PUNTACANA Ecological Foundation, a joint effort with the University of Miami and Counterpart International, is dedicated to repopulating staghorn coral in Punta Cana and elsewhere on the island.
Staghorn coral populations have declined by 98% in the last four decades, making it one of the most endangered types of coral in the world. In fact, since 2006 staghorn coral has been officially classified as an endangered species, and many people believed that future generations would not be able to enjoy the coral reefs in Punta Cana due to their rapidly diminishing populations.
Fortunately, the PUNTACANA Ecological Foundation has discovered a way to combat the erosion of the coral and attempt to restore the fragile ecosystem. While underwater, divers take samples of surviving coral populations and transplant them to one of nine coral nurseries. The coral is then given the necessary time and ideal conditions to thrive. Once the coral has proven itself at the nursery, divers move it from the nursery back to the coral reefs in a process known as “outplanting.” By growing and rehabilitating coral in these nurseries the population of native coral is strengthened, as is the ecosystem that the coral supports. In total, more than 1000 meters of coral has been transplanted back on the reef by people working diligently to save the reefs.
As part of a collaborative effort between the PUNTACANA Ecological Foundation and Mark Goldsmith, a dive instructor, there is a new dive certification called the Coral Reef First Aid Distinctive Specialty. This special dive certification, which is only found here, allows experienced divers to do their part in maintaining and expanding the staghorn coral population in Punta Cana, showing that conservation is truly a communal effort and something that visitors to the island can do to help.
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