A new coral restoration technique, researched by SECORE International, could save two of Seychelles’ key economic sectors, tourism and fishing, as well as contributing to efforts to reverse the effects of climate change
A new coral restoration technique, researched by SECORE International, could save two of Seychelles’ key economic sectors, tourism and fishing, as well as contributing to efforts to reverse the effects of climate change.
Scientists and conservationists from the global network SECORE International have grown 50,000 coral fragments in an underwater nursery and divers have hand-planted an area the size of a football field in an offshore reserve of Cousin Island.
It’s part of Seychelles’ restoration efforts, one of the world’s most ambitious programmes, to combat devastating coral losses caused by bleaching, which is related to warming waters and climate change, alongside other ecosystem impacts from pollution, storms, and mechanical damage from boats and offshore construction.
SECORE warned, however, that restoring corals by hand cannot keep up with the reef degradation occurring on a scale of hundreds and thousands of square kilometres.
The network has therefore developed a new sowing approach to allow the handling of large coral numbers.
SECORE has developed a method of growing coral larvae in “seeding units”, which could enable a transplant of 10,000 corals in 90% fewer work hours and up to 33% fewer costs.
The units do not require individual manual attachment, they just need to be wedged in crevices and can self-stabilise.
The technique was studied in Curacao, where the coral’s survival rate has met the target level in its first year.
Project leader and Executive Director Dr Dirk Peterson said: “If we want restoration to play a more meaningful role in coral reef conservation, we need to think in new directions.
“Our sowing approach is an important step towards reaching this goal since it will allow the handling of large numbers of corals in a very short amount of time at significantly lower costs.
“If we are able to combine our new sowing approach with more effective coral larvae rearing techniques, which we are developing right now, costs of reef restoration could become comparable to the costs of existing mangrove and salt marsh restoration efforts.”
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