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In pictures: Saving Jamaica's coral, an undersea labor of love

Updated : 2019-09-18 15:45:59

After a series of natural and man-made disasters in the 1980s and 1990s, Jamaica lost 85 percent of its once-bountiful coral reefs. But today, the corals and tropical fish are slowly reappearing, thanks in part to a series of careful interventions.

Fish swim past planted staghorn coral inside the White River Fish Sanctuary in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. At White River Fish Sanctuary, which is only about 2 years old, the clearest proof of early success is the return of tropical fish that inhabit the reefs, as well as hungry pelicans, skimming the surface of the water to feed on them. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Fish swim past planted staghorn coral inside the White River Fish Sanctuary in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. At White River Fish Sanctuary, which is only about 2 years old, the clearest proof of early success is the return of tropical fish that inhabit the reefs, as well as hungry pelicans, skimming the surface of the water to feed on them. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Everton Simpson, right, sits on a boat in-between dives on the White River Fish Sanctuary with Mark Lobbanin Ocho Rios, Jamaica. More than a dozen grassroots-run fish sanctuaries and coral nurseries have sprung up on the island in the past decade. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Everton Simpson, right, sits on a boat in-between dives on the White River Fish Sanctuary with Mark Lobbanin Ocho Rios, Jamaica. More than a dozen grassroots-run fish sanctuaries and coral nurseries have sprung up on the island in the past decade. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Divers, from left, Ray Taylor, Everton Simpson and Andrew Todd gather coral from a coral nursery to be planted inside the White River Fish Sanctuary. The tropical turquoise waters near the coast of Jamaica are beautiful and inviting, but they disguise the devastation that lurks beneath. But swim a little farther and pieces of regenerating staghorn coral appear, strung out on a line, waiting to be tied onto rocks in an effort to repair the damage done to reefs by man and nature. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Divers, from left, Ray Taylor, Everton Simpson and Andrew Todd gather coral from a coral nursery to be planted inside the White River Fish Sanctuary. The tropical turquoise waters near the coast of Jamaica are beautiful and inviting, but they disguise the devastation that lurks beneath. But swim a little farther and pieces of regenerating staghorn coral appear, strung out on a line, waiting to be tied onto rocks in an effort to repair the damage done to reefs by man and nature. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
On the ocean floor, small coral fragments dangle from suspended ropes, as socks hung on a laundry line. Divers tend to these underwater nurseries much like a terrestrial gardener mind a flower bed, plucking off snails and fireworms that feast on immature coral. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
On the ocean floor, small coral fragments dangle from suspended ropes, as socks hung on a laundry line. Divers tend to these underwater nurseries much like a terrestrial gardener mind a flower bed, plucking off snails and fireworms that feast on immature coral. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Divers bring staghorn coral from a coral nursery to be planted inside the White River Fish Sanctuary. When each stub grows to about the size of a human hand, Simpson collects them in a crate to individually
Divers bring staghorn coral from a coral nursery to be planted inside the White River Fish Sanctuary. When each stub grows to about the size of a human hand, Simpson collects them in a crate to individually "transplant" onto a reef, a process akin to planting each blade of grass in a lawn separately. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Diver Everton Simpson reaches to tie lines of staghorn coral growing at a coral nursery inside the White River Fish Sanctuary in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Simpson kicks up some sand as he harvests some of the precious crop to be transplanted in a protected area. The current propels him back and forth, making the delicate process seem akin to trying to thread a needle on a roller coaster. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Diver Everton Simpson reaches to tie lines of staghorn coral growing at a coral nursery inside the White River Fish Sanctuary in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Simpson kicks up some sand as he harvests some of the precious crop to be transplanted in a protected area. The current propels him back and forth, making the delicate process seem akin to trying to thread a needle on a roller coaster. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Diver Everton Simpson plants staghorn harvested from a coral nursery inside the White River Fish Sanctuary. Simpson uses bits of fishing line to tie clusters of staghorn coral onto rocky outcroppings, a temporary binding until the coral's limestone skeleton grows and fixes itself onto the rock. The goal is to jumpstart the natural growth of a coral reef. And so far, it's working. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Diver Everton Simpson plants staghorn harvested from a coral nursery inside the White River Fish Sanctuary. Simpson uses bits of fishing line to tie clusters of staghorn coral onto rocky outcroppings, a temporary binding until the coral's limestone skeleton grows and fixes itself onto the rock. The goal is to jumpstart the natural growth of a coral reef. And so far, it's working. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Diver Everton Simpson carries pieces of staghorn coral from a nursery to be planted inside the White River Fish Sanctuary in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. One day, Simpson and the other Jamaicans doing this work hope, the coral and fish will fully return and match the beauty of the water above. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Diver Everton Simpson carries pieces of staghorn coral from a nursery to be planted inside the White River Fish Sanctuary in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. One day, Simpson and the other Jamaicans doing this work hope, the coral and fish will fully return and match the beauty of the water above. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Staghorn coral grows on lines at a coral nursery inside the White River Fish Sanctuary in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Just 2 percent of the ocean floor is filled with coral, but the branching structures, shaped like everything from reindeer antlers to human brains, sustain a quarter of all marine species. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Staghorn coral grows on lines at a coral nursery inside the White River Fish Sanctuary in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Just 2 percent of the ocean floor is filled with coral, but the branching structures, shaped like everything from reindeer antlers to human brains, sustain a quarter of all marine species. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
After a series of natural and man-made disasters in the 1980s and 1990s, Jamaica lost 85 percent of its once-bountiful coral reefs. But today, the corals and tropical fish are slowly reappearing, thanks in part to a series of careful interventions. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
After a series of natural and man-made disasters in the 1980s and 1990s, Jamaica lost 85 percent of its once-bountiful coral reefs. But today, the corals and tropical fish are slowly reappearing, thanks in part to a series of careful interventions. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
With fish and coral, it's a codependent relationship. The fish rely upon the reef structure to evade danger and lay eggs, and they also eat up the coral's rivals. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
With fish and coral, it's a codependent relationship. The fish rely upon the reef structure to evade danger and lay eggs, and they also eat up the coral's rivals. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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