Atlantis Paradise Island, a global leader in marine life conservation, will be home to The Bahamas’ first coral gene bank, making strides in the global fight against Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD), an affliction decimating coral populations in The Bahamas and beyond.
Nearly half of The Bahamas and Caribbean’s reef-building coral species are susceptible to SCTLD. Of the 45 reef-building coral species within the region, more than half can catch the disease, including some of the slowest-growing and longest-lived species such as brain, pillar and star corals. Coral survival rate of SCTLD is extremely low and once infected, corals can die within weeks.
Signed into effect on May 18th, The Bahamas Coral Gene Bank at Atlantis Paradise Island (BCGB) is a collaboration between Atlantis and its 501(c)3 nonprofit organization Atlantis Blue Project Foundation (ABPF), The Bahamas Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs, Perry Institute for Marine Science (PIMS) and University of The Bahamas. Under this agreement, Atlantis and ABPF will support the effort to build and equip a biosecure facility to save the most vulnerable coral species from SCTLD until they can be safely returned to the reefs.
In its 25-year history, Atlantis has established itself as a leader in sustainable tourism with ongoing work to protect, rehabilitate and conserve marine life in The Bahamas. The Atlantis team makes decisions guided by current and future environmental, social and economic impacts. The resort’s innovative, progressive, passion-driven approach to preserving paradise underscores every aspect of the iconic destination resort, from family-friendly activities to diverse dining offerings.
When visiting Atlantis, guests have a unique opportunity to contribute to marine life conservation. Proceeds from all experiences at the resort’s world-class marine habitats and Dolphin Cay directly fund ABPF initiatives. Most recently, Atlantis, ABPF and Perry Institute for Marine Science led a coral out planting excursion using coral fragments harvested from nurseries at the resort, and replanted a nearby coral reef to accelerate the process of ecosystem replenishment.
The Atlantis Blue Project Foundation is championing the efforts to preserve marine life in The Bahamas. The foundation has successfully financed the country’s first coral reef report card, which involved surveying over 400 reefs to determine the extent of damage and predict recovery after natural disasters. They have established 25 coral nurseries and planted thousands of corals to aid in the growth of depleted reefs. Their efforts have also contributed to creating 1.4 million acres of Marine Protected Areas on the west side of Andros Island and the designation of 17 marine protected areas with coral reefs in The Bahamas. Additionally, the foundation has provided funding for the implementation of coral reef education programs in schools throughout the country.
The Bahamas Coral Gene Bank at Atlantis will allow marine biologists and students to rescue, preserve, study and grow coral species in a controlled environment. The BCGB will house up to 600 coral colonies of more than 15 species vulnerable to SCTLD and will be designed to allow for coral propagation, producing tens of thousands of offspring annually. The BCBG will safeguard genetic diversity and foster coral breeding for reef regeneration and restoration.
“We have a responsibility to the ecosystems surrounding us, and establishing The Bahamas Coral Gene Bank is our next step in the ongoing effort to protect our reefs and stop Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease. The Atlantis team is proud of its commitment to conserving marine life and restoring our oceans. As we celebrate World Ocean Month, we aim to raise greater awareness and education to the local and global community about the critical environmental challenges we face,” said Audrey Oswell, President and Managing Director of Atlantis Paradise Island.
“The Bahamas Coral Gene Bank at Atlantis Paradise Island goes beyond coral rescue—it is about securing the future of Bahamian reefs,” said Michele Liu, Senior Vice President of Atlantis Marine and Water Park Operations and Board Member of Atlantis Blue Project Foundation. “Through this initiative, our goal is to preserve critical marine life and safeguard the livelihood of future generations, which has been the goal of Atlantis Blue Project Foundation since its inception in 2005.”
World Ocean Month will be celebrated throughout June at Atlantis with various fun and educational activities for guests of all ages as well as its team members. These include coastal restoration community events, mangrove seedling plantings, ocean conservation talks, ocean-themed culinary adventures for kids, aquatic-themed movies celebrating all things aquatic, and a special scavenger hunt as part of the World Ocean Month experience at Atlantis.
You can learn more about Atlantis Paradise Island and Atlantis Blue Project Foundation’s sustainability efforts by visiting the website.