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The nerve centre of environmental preservation projects and activities at Gayana is our onsite Marine Ecology Research Centre, or MERC. A programme that is focussed on the rehabilitation and restoration of different forms of marine life, MERC is a fully-functional research centre that is run by a team of dedicated marine biologists and professionals. While Gayana is deeply devoted to providing ideal island experiences to our guests, we are also highly invested in preserving nature's underwater treasures and ensuring that their beauty and uniqueness may be enjoyed by generations to come.
One of our projects involves the propagation of giant clams, which have been reduced in number throughout our seas to the point of extinction by irresponsible fishing practices and over-harvesting. Special reef aquariums at MERC create the optimal environment for giant clams to prosper from infancy. Bright lighting provides the clams with energy for their photosynthetic processes, and regular dosages of calcium allow them to develop thick, healthy shells and to grow at an accelerated pace.
Coral reefs stand as some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, harbouring an incredible number of aquatic species of flora and fauna. Fish bombing, cyanide poisoning, human activity and even changes brought about by adjustments in global climate have led to the erosion or destruction of many of these precious environments. MERC's coral planting programme allows for the gradual restoration of these reefs through an intensive process that begins with scavenging for broken pieces of coral. These fragments are planted into a plaster base that is then kept in a tank for an extended period of time, allowing the coral to stabilise in its new environment. When ready, the fragments are then brought to various underwater locations where they can be affixed so as to encourage continued growth. A number of specially-built rehabilitation structures act as new homes for these corals in a specially-marked "no wake" zone. Each coral is identified to allow its planter to track its progress, and guests who choose to "adopt" coral fragments in this way are sent regular updates on the status of their fragments. Guests are free to participate in coral planting activities, available at 10am and 3pm at MERC.
A long-term project of MERC covers the restoration of marine life, which may have been endangered by human progress and overfishing. Several programmes are held in conjunction with local communities, nipping the issue in the bud and allowing MERC to locate and directly rescue injured sea creatures, which are then nursed back to health by the centre's research staff. These creatures are cared for at MERC, where they are researched, monitored, fed and cared for. The programme extends beyond taking endangered species from nets and dinner tables, chiefly by educating the fishermen themselves on the value of marine life in an effort to minimise the risk of eradication in the long run.