ocean cay marine reserve: making a haven for nature

September 2021

 

Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve is our private island in the Caribbean. It is part of the Bimini chain of islands in the western Bahamas, close to Miami and Florida's east coast.

 

Today Ocean Cay has been transformed from a wasteland into a glorious, tropical paradise, complete with fantastic native flora and fauna. The Government of the Bahamas has committed to designating the waters around Ocean Cay as a Marine Protected Area and we’ve removed invasive species and reintroduced indigenous vegetation with spectacular results.



2020 saw the return of many bird species, including breeding pairs, and an increase in migrating populations. Herons, egrets and oystercatchers are now frequent visitors and there have been occasional sightings of birds of prey like osprey and kestrels.



Clearing the waters around the island of scrap metal waste has dramatically improved the local ecology too. And when we dug channels to allow ships to berth, we carefully transplanted the coral, many of which survived. The corals now host many exotic species of fish, a sign of a healthy reef.



We’re also encouraging Green, Hawksbill and Loggerhead sea
turtles to breed around Ocean Cay with measures including regular patrols to monitor and protect them, barriers to control visitors in nesting places, and strategies to mitigate the impact of artificial lights where females are nesting.



Even the sea urchin has returned, an important addition as they devour the algae that can smother coral reefs.