Restoration project starting to bear coral

| 07/12/2020 | 4 Comments

(CNS): The Central Caribbean Marine Institute has said that in its latest dome outplanting project of the endangered staghorn coral, the scientists saw an 89% survival rate after six months for over 120 corals restored onto the reef. CCMI has been working on coral restoration for eight years now and has learned much about this emerging but relatively new technique leading to the latest success.

Dr Gretchen Goodbody-Gringley, CCMI’s Director of Research, said the project creates great hope for restoration.

“We executed a large restoration project comparing the success of out-planting at different sites and depths that is showing huge success, with 89% survival rates for corals out-planted onto the reefs,” she said in a release about the increasing success of the work.

“We actually had nearly 100% success on several of the test sites but one site was impacted by disease, a very real and prominent threat to coral reefs. These types of studies are pivotal to our success in restoring the reefs and ensuring that every coral we raise in our nursery and plant out onto the reef has the highest chance of survival,” she added.

As the scientists improve techniques to regrow the endangered coral, there is great potential to outplant large areas of the reef, increasing reef complexity and promoting biodiversity.  

Through various experiments with different restoration techniques, the scientists are learning best practice, including genetic testing and understanding resilience to disease, as well as growing more robust corals in the nurseries that can withstand storm and surge impact. Through meticulous science-based investigation, the team at CCMI now know the best ways to select and orient corals in their nursery and are also discovering optimal techniques for outplanting to promote growth and

The team has learned that site selection for outplanting is critical to restoration success and next steps will aim to determine what environmental features may be driving the differences in success.  

“Frustratingly, it is not a case of just putting the corals out via the new domes and seeing how they go. Further understanding as to which corals can be resilient to disease and temperature is critical to the restoration process,” the scientists said.

Moving forward, the CCMI team will be testing temperature tolerances and how differences in physiology among individual colonies may impact survival.  The reefs in the Cayman Islands, Little Cayman in particular, are “relatively healthy”, according to CCMI’s 21 years of data collection, using AGGRA protocols and the Healthy Reef Initiative to measure and gauge reef health.

“Reef decline is prevalent in the Caribbean and around the globe and we know there is a window of time to protect coral reefs for the future,” the marine experts warned.

CCMI’s research mission is to promote the resilience of coral reef ecosystems and this project has very scalable conservation outcomes that could make a significant different to reef health in the future.

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (4)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Is it edible? Alden’s people are starving!

    • Oceans Cayman says:

      No worries the big turkeys and hams give away your votes handout program run by his sibling will feed the masses do they don’t have supplement their diet with out Precious and endangered marine life

  2. Catcha Fire says:

    I applaud and support CCMI efforts and work to replenish our beautiful coral system but unless we stop this over population and polluting of land and destroying our environment building program which is directly seriously effecting our healthy coral reefs, this is just not going to be effective in stopping our coral from being totally destroyed . These underwater ecosystems are totally dependent on our above water actions to continue to survive and flourish.

    • Hi Catcha Fire,
      We would fully concur at CCMI, restoration is supposed to be one conservation tool in an armoury of many, not a stand alone solution. Restoration alone cannot reverse coral reef decline but it can improve reef biodiversity (now) and if we can identify corals that can withstand warming oceans, then we give reefs a chance because this is the biggest long-term threat to their destruction. Ideally, direct conservation like restoration goes hand in hand with sustainable development practice at local level.

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