AP Photos: Saving Jamaica's coral, an undersea labor of love

Everton Simpson, right, sits on a boat in-between dives on the White River Fish Sanctuary with Mark Lobban, left, Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in Ocho Rios,...
Divers, from left, Ray Taylor, Everton Simpson and Andrew Todd gather coral from a coral nursery to be planted inside the White River Fish Sanctuary T...
Diver Lenford DaCosta tends to lines of staghorn coral growing at an underwater nursery inside the Oracabessa Fish Sanctuary Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, i...
Diver Everton Simpson reaches to tie lines of staghorn coral growing at a coral nursery inside the White River Fish Sanctuary Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, i...
Divers Everton Simpson, right, and Andrew Todd bring staghorn coral from a coral nursery to be planted inside the White River Fish Sanctuary Tuesday, ...
Diver Everton Simpson carries pieces of staghorn coral from a nursery to be planted inside the White River Fish Sanctuary Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in Oc...
Diver Everton Simpson plants staghorn harvested from a coral nursery inside the the White River Fish Sanctuary Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, in Ocho Rios, J...
Diver Everton Simpson removes snails from staghorn coral planted inside the White River Fish Sanctuary Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. T...
Staghorn coral grows on lines at a coral nursery inside the White River Fish Sanctuary Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Just 2 percent of...
Diver Lenford DaCosta cleans up lines of staghorn coral at an underwater coral nursery inside the Oracabessa Fish Sanctuary, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, i...
Diver Lenford DaCosta cleans up lines of staghorn coral at a nursery inside the Oracabessa Fish Sanctuary Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, in Oracabessa, Jamai...
Diver Everton Simpson plants staghorn coral harvested from a coral nursery inside the the White River Fish Sanctuary Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, in Ocho R...
Fish swim past planted staghorn coral inside the the White River Fish Sanctuary Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. At White River Fish San...
Nicholas Bingham uses an underwater flashlight to spearfish at night, which is banned, under a moonlit sky, in Stewart Town, Jamaica, Friday, Feb. 15,...

Everton Simpson, right, sits on a boat in-between dives on the White River Fish Sanctuary with Mark Lobban, left, Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in Ocho Rios,...

Divers, from left, Ray Taylor, Everton Simpson and Andrew Todd gather coral from a coral nursery to be planted inside the White River Fish Sanctuary T...

Diver Lenford DaCosta tends to lines of staghorn coral growing at an underwater nursery inside the Oracabessa Fish Sanctuary Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, i...

Diver Everton Simpson reaches to tie lines of staghorn coral growing at a coral nursery inside the White River Fish Sanctuary Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, i...

Divers Everton Simpson, right, and Andrew Todd bring staghorn coral from a coral nursery to be planted inside the White River Fish Sanctuary Tuesday, ...

Diver Everton Simpson carries pieces of staghorn coral from a nursery to be planted inside the White River Fish Sanctuary Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in Oc...

Diver Everton Simpson plants staghorn harvested from a coral nursery inside the the White River Fish Sanctuary Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, in Ocho Rios, J...

Diver Everton Simpson removes snails from staghorn coral planted inside the White River Fish Sanctuary Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. T...

Staghorn coral grows on lines at a coral nursery inside the White River Fish Sanctuary Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Just 2 percent of...

Diver Lenford DaCosta cleans up lines of staghorn coral at an underwater coral nursery inside the Oracabessa Fish Sanctuary, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, i...

Diver Lenford DaCosta cleans up lines of staghorn coral at a nursery inside the Oracabessa Fish Sanctuary Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, in Oracabessa, Jamai...

Diver Everton Simpson plants staghorn coral harvested from a coral nursery inside the the White River Fish Sanctuary Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, in Ocho R...

Fish swim past planted staghorn coral inside the the White River Fish Sanctuary Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. At White River Fish San...

Nicholas Bingham uses an underwater flashlight to spearfish at night, which is banned, under a moonlit sky, in Stewart Town, Jamaica, Friday, Feb. 15,...

OCHO RIOS, Jamaica (AP) — The tropical turquoise waters near the coast of Jamaica are beautiful and inviting, but they disguise the devastation that lurks beneath. After flipping backward off a small wooden boat and diving toward the ocean floor, the damage comes into full view. The landscape looks like an underwater desert, with nothing but sand and rocks visible — no fish in sight. But swim a little farther and pieces of regenerating staghorn coral appear, strung out on a line, waiting to be tied onto rocks in an effort to repair the damage done to reefs by man and nature. Diver Everton Simpson kicks up some sand as he moves closer to the coral nursery and harvests some of the precious crop to be transplanted in a protected area. As he clears an area for the new coral and ties it to its new home, the current propels him back and forth, making the delicate process seem akin to trying to thread a needle on a roller coaster. The years of care that Simpson has devoted to trying to bring back Jamaica's coral reefs are shown by the cuts on his hands as he painstakingly works to transplant the new coral. One day, he and the other Jamaicans doing this work hope, the coral and fish will fully return and match the beauty of the water above.

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This Associated Press series was produced in partnership with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.