Coral Garden

A “green” project based on environmental preservation
A “green” project based on environmental preservation

The Red Sea Star is an environmentally friendly project that exists in harmony with its natural environment. Going even further than that, it has contributed and continues to contribute to the care and conservation of that environment.

Until some twenty years ago, the north shore of the Gulf of Eilat, in the area of the “Star”, was the site of an active and colorful coral reef. Regretfully, the reef was subjected to severe damage in the course of the years through a variety of human activities, including pouring sewage effluent into the sea that polluted the area, waste disposal, construction and site development work, swimming and under-water diving, to the point where the delicate reef and its denizens were almost totally annihilated. At the start of construction, the seabed at the site of the “Star” was desolate and barren as a desert. We joined a broad-scale rescue project, still in process, to rebuild and take care of the wonderful coral reef that had been destroyed. We succeeded beyond our expectations, a fact that can be verified by gazing at the enchanted scene revealed through the windows of the “Star”.

Over a period of four years prior to the opening of the “Star” to the general public, the coral reef has been recreated, rehabilitated and tended by a team of “Star” divers under the supervision of a marine biology specialist, in cooperation with the National Parks and Nature Preserves Authority. The “Star” people established an underwater plant nursery at a depth of 20 meters below sea level, where they looked after the cultivation of the corals. With much love they set them at the proper angles with respect to the sun, cleaned them of predators, separated aggressive from passive coral species and created optimum conditions for their growth, so that their rate of growth was several-fold that of natural growth. Just before the opening of the project to the public, the corals were transferred from the nursery to the area around the underwater building level at the site. Then the “Star’s” divers brought rocks and colonies of damaged corals from other parts of the Red Sea, where the chance for survival of those corals was extremely poor, thus saving them from extinction.

The results of the enormous effort, the dedicated loving care and the investment in the underwater garden were not long in making their appearance. More than 70% of the corals “took” and developed. In their wake came many fish of various types, including some that hadn’t been seen in the area for decades, which have now “come home.”

The “Star’s” team of divers is continuing its regular work of preserving and caring for the natural environment. Its efforts include protection of the reef surrounding the underwater level of the site from potential coral predators (such as mollusks and various types of snails), cleaning the coral of sediment that floats down through the water, settles on the corals and suffocates them, etc. Moreover, as a consequence of the remoteness of the site from public swimming and underwater diving areas, natural propagation has been proceeding undisturbed so that in the spring and summer seasons, the addition of many young fish is expected.

In the open sea, nobody will care for the corals but the corals themselves, however their own sources of energy are not always sufficient for the task. It is for this reason, that our work is so important and it is thanks to this work that visitors of the Red Sea Star are able to enjoy a view of the dynamic, colorful undersea world, a world in which school after school of exotic fish enters and exits the coral garden surrounding the site, which is even visited now and then by larger marine life forms, including sea turtles, dolphins and others.