18/10/2019 Margot Lootens
The Parking Lot in our MPA
About a year ago we started the construction of our sixth artificial reef named “the Parking Lot”. We bought three broken-down cars on Nosy Be and sunk them in the sea a few hundred meters in front of our beach. The metal frame of an old car forms a perfect base to create an interesting artificial reef which provides shelter and food for a variety of marine species, from corals and sea urchins to endemic fish and enormous jellyfish.
Already after a few months the metal frames were covered in algae, providing a base for coral to attach to the cars as well, in turn attracting a bigger variety of species to the reef. The Parking Lot has become an interesting site for our mariners to survey and, even more importantly, it contributes to the reconstruction and expansion of the reef out here in front of our beach.
Because of the success of this initiative, we recently decided to extend the Parking Lot. We managed to purchase three more broken-down cars in Hell-Ville. Placing the cars into the water was an entire operation, demanding some helping hands from both volunteers and staff members. Fortunately, this time we could use our boat, the Spirit of Malala, to transport the cars to the reef which made the operation a lot easier in comparison to a year ago when we had to keep them afloat with makeshift buoys.
The first car arrived on Friday afternoon. About ten volunteers got on board the Malala to lift and drop the car into the ocean while three of our marine staff members were in the water to guarantee the proper placement of the car on the bottom of the sea. Saturday morning two more cars arrived and were placed alongside the other cars to complete the Parking Lot. For now, we have to let nature do its work. Hopefully in a few months’ time we can start to attach coral to the frames and the reef can continue to expand.