Corales de Paz plans to run the first five-day meaningful diving expedition to assess simultaneously the health of five coral reef sites and 150 members from marginalised island communities. The San Andres Reef & Covid-19 expedition, planned for 13 - 16 Nov 2020, will send a team of 12 medical specialist doctors and Reef Check EcoDivers to run for three days underwater surveys in the mornings and medical brigades in the afternoon.
San Andres is a coral reef dependent island in Colombia, home to over 70.000 people. Although the provincial government is working diligently to improve the health of coral reefs and reef dependent communities, both the coral reefs and people are threatened by the coral-killing SCTLD and the highly infectious human COVID-19 pandemics. This project will assess coral reef health at five sites and the health of 150 people from the most vulnerable communities who depend on coral reefs.
The expedition provides information to environmental managers on the presence, magnitude, and susceptibility of local reefs to the Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease. Coral reef surveyors are medical specialists trained as Reef Check EcoDivers. After assessing coral reef health, the specialists assess the health of communities who cannot access medical services and provide information to health authorities of common health risks and morbidities that could increase the risk of COVID-19 fatalities.
The project will serve as an early warning system to environmental and health departments in San Andres island, allowing them to better prepare for a potential outbreak of the stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) and the human highly infectious disease COVID-19 now that the island is reopening to tourism.