September 22, 2020

Sir Richard Branson dives with Dr. Guy Harvey to generate awareness of endangered Nassau Groupers

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Annually after a full moon Nassau Groupers

gather off the coast to spawn

LITTLE CAYMAN,  Cayman Islands (March 14, 2017) – Sir Richard Branson says witnessing a massive spawning aggregation of Nassau groupers was “like being in the maternity ward of the ocean, with thousands of fish mating together.”

Branson made the dive off the coast of Little Cayman with Dr. , the Cayman Islands Department of Environment (DOE) and Environmental Education Foundation () to help spread the word about protecting this critically endangered iconic fish.

Each year after the February full moon, thousands of Nassau groupers gather off the west end of Little Cayman to spawn.  This concentration of fish in one area makes them an easy target for fishermen and consequently, populations of Nassau grouper have become overfished and devastated throughout the .

REEF and the DOE have worked for 15 years to monitor and protect this species and aggregation site.  Because of the ongoing research program, education, and implemented legislation including a 5-month closed season and catch limits, scientists consider there is a positive trend in the recovery of the species.

Branson, who described the experience in his blog (https://virg.in/ZXk), visited Little Cayman to see if the scientific work and conservation effort could be exported to other islands.

“The Nassau grouper is such an iconic, Caribbean species. Divers love to interact with this friendly fish. As a [medium] reef predator, the grouper also needs to be protected for the health of our reefs,” says Dr. Harvey. The GHOF has spent seven years supporting and promoting this spawning aggregation to local and international communities, emphasizing its importance to the reef ecosystem. “We appreciate Sir Richard’s interest in this. Awareness is the first step in taking action.”

During the expedition, Dr. Harvey’s production team also shot a sequel to the critically acclaimed “Mystery of the Grouper Moon” which first documented the work six years ago. A virtual reality video of the spawning aggregation can be seen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DttiqNs85hg.

For more information on the Grouper Moon Project, please visit REEF at www.reef.orgor the DOE at www.doe.ky. Links to the specific project can be found here:http://www.reef.org/groupermoonproject and http://doe.ky/marine/grouper/

 

About Guy Harvey:

Guy Harvey is a unique blend of artist, scientist, diver, angler, conservationist and explorer, fiercely devoted to his family and his love of the sea. His childhood passion for the ocean and its living creatures not only inspired him to draw, but fueled a burning interest that prompted a formal education in marine science. Having graduated with honors in Marine Biology from Aberdeen University in Scotland in 1977, Guy returned home to Jamaica to resume his education, earning his Ph.D. from the University of the West Indies in 1984. Though he gave up a budding career as a marine biologist for that of a highly acclaimed artist, Guy has continued his relentless pursuit to unravel the mysteries of the sea, traveling the world to better understand the habits and habitats of the marine wildlife he paints. For more information, please visitwww.guyharvey.com. Follow Guy on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/DrGuyHarvey, on Twitter atwww.twitter.com/DrGuyHarvey, connect on Instagram atwww.instagram.com/drguyharvey, and tune in to see Guy’s latest expeditions on YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/DrGuyHarvey.

About the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation:

The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF) conducts scientific research and hosts educational programs aimed at conserving the marine environment. The GHOF also funds affiliated researchers working to better understand our ocean ecosystem and educators helping to foster the next era of marine conservationists. The GHOF will help ensure that future generations can enjoy and benefit from a properly balanced ocean ecosystem.

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