Results

Results of the 2016 Aitutaki Reef-Keepers (ARK) programme took many forms. Among the highlights:

  • Success of the 2016 ARK programme is attributable to the support from the Cook Islands Ministry of Marine Resources, Ministry of Tourism, The Aitutaki Conservation Trust, Tracy Spiers, principle at Araura College, Retire Puaii, Principle at Araura and Primary school, and the parent Reef-Keepers programme.
  • Special thanks are due to the Aitutaki Island Council, Richard Story, Metua Vaimena, and Misepa Isamaela, Trina Armstrong, Rowan Strickland, Kathryn Scott, Natalie Prinze, Joe Kaukura, and the LABRATS Team from Redd School in Houston, Texas.
  • Special thanks are also due to the Robert L. & Mary J. Bartlett Foundation for a particularly generous donation to the Aitutaki Reef-Keepers programme.
  • In a two-month period, the ARK Team taught 537 tourists how to prepare or plant over 300 coral fragments, and plant 126 native Tridacna maxima giant clams directly onto near-shore reef structures.
  • Although it was low peak season for tourism in the Cook Islands, there was a 5-fold increase in visitors to AMRC compared to when the ARK programme was not running.
  • In partial response to venue and presentation enhancements, the amount of financial donations per visitor doubled from the 2015 ARK programme.
  • A group of visitors from Realswim Adventures generously donated 10 sets of masks and snorkels to the ARK programme, meaning that all of the kids from Whangarei could get into the water to plant corals.
  • Estimates for coral survival after 72 hours was approximately 75%. After 6 weeks, survival of juvenile clams was well above 90%.
  • Six ARK Team members gained introductory experience in marketing communications, science education, photography, IT, construction, accounting, and ecotourism.
  • Principle Tracy Spiers from Aitutaki’s Araura College is seeking to integrate the Aitutaki Reef-Keepers programme into the school’s science curriculum.
  • As an extension of Ms. Spiers’s objective, a New Zealand National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) for Environmental Sustainability is being drafted by Charles Waters, Ph. D. (Marine Science).
  • A presentation to students at Waiheke Island, New Zealand, about the ARK programme resulted in an expression of interest to initiate a Waiheke Reef-Keepers initiative to restore near-shore kelp beds.
  • Positive results of the ARK programme are leading to a grant application to the Global Environment Facility / Small Grants Programme for up to NZ$50,000.
  • Representatives from the Cook Islands Ministry of Tourism have suggested that additional funding may be available for future ARK programmes.