By Nerandza Nikolic  

Soon after I moved to The Bahamas in the early August of 2019 to start teaching at the Lyford Cay International School, I was fortunate enough to attend a presentation by Mrs. Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, Executive Director of BREEF, where, among other things, I learned about coral nurseries. Wait, what? Underwater gardening is possible? Where do I sign up?! Needless to say, I was mesmerized and made a decision that once an opportunity presented itself, I was going to join this noble cause.

Although my plans got postponed by Covid-19, I was not going to give up. So, in the meantime, I took part in the BREEF Paint & Sip fundraiser and became the proud adoptive mother of a coral; her name is Renata, which in Spanish means “reborn”, thus symbolically representing the rebirth of our coral reefs and safeguarding the oceans.  

Photo 1- Endangered species, Staghorn coral out-planted onto the nearby reef.
Photo 2- Nena out-planting her adopted coral “Renata”.

So, finally, in October 2020 I got a chance to become a PADI Certified Diver with the help of one of the star BREEF instructors and one of the most passionate environmentalists, Allison Ballester-Longley. Now, bear in mind that the writer of these lines has fought the fear of swimming for years and thanks to the patience and expertise of my instructor, I not only managed to stay underwater, diving for lengthy periods of time, but I also out-planted two corals at the BREEF Coral Reef Sculpture Garden and socialized with various schools of fish which insisted on photobombing and interrupting our communication expecting to be fed. Rude!

Photo 3- Nena, photobombed by a blue tang at the BREEF Coral Reef Sculpture Garden and Coral Nursery.

Where from here? How does pursuing my Reef Rescue Diver certification and swimming with the sharks at Stuart Cove sound to you? Exactly!

Photo 4- PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, Allison Ballester-Longley and Open Water student Nena, heading out for a dive.

BREEF created the Coral Reef Sculpture Garden to draw attention to the threats facing our coral reefs, and to drive action to protect them. BREEF has created coral nurseries at the Coral Reef Sculpture Gardens and on the Andros Great Barrier Reef. At these coral nurseries, we are growing the endangered species, Staghorn coral.

BREEF is proud to be a part of the Reef Rescue Network in The Bahamas. Join us! Help rebuild our reefs by adopting a coral or become certified as a PADI Reef Rescue Diver!