By David Hilmer, Program Analyst, Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research (CSCOR), National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS)
This article is one in a periodic series regarding CSCOR activities and sponsored research. You can also see the blog for other articles about the work being done by CSCOR.
A dramatic decline of threatened staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) in the Caribbean threatens the habitat of thousands of invertebrate and fish species. To protect the coral and its occupants, innovative methods are needed to help restore this species to its former abundance and distribution.
Replacing a traditional practice of growing corals in offshore open water nurseries, conservation groups and researchers are now experimenting with onshore coral nurseries to increase reef resiliency. Onshore-grown coral are returned to natural reefs in hopes of restoration.
NOAA has sponsored the National Coral Reef Institute to compare the survivability and growth of staghorn coral in both land-based and offshore open water nurseries. The project’s goal is to plant fragments from both nurseries to reef sites to see if land-based nursery corals can provide an additional source of coral fragments for restoration activities.
In one of the first of its kind operations, the project is currently transplanting the land-based staghorn corals to degraded reefs off Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to test how they well they respond under wild conditions.
These news articles provide pictures and more information about the transplant effort.
Transplants offer hope for decaying reefs (Miami Hearld)