Our Perspectives

 

Waiting is the Hardest Part

Waiting is the Hardest Part

by | Aug 23, 2018 | Perspectives

For over three years we have been striving to receive our official permissions to practice coral restoration using nursery propagation and out-planting techniques. You can only imagine how much impact that authorization will have on our ability to effectively move forward.

We have not been idle with our preparations in the meantime. Coral Restoration involves a lot of complex and diverse interactions with existing marine eco-systems and environmental conditions.

One of the challenges faced in the Bocas archipelago is the compromised fish population due to overfishing accelerated by the simultaneous loss of habitat. A thriving fishery is instrumental in helping to control the growth and spread of certain algae that overrun sea structures including both dead and living corals. The result is that there is no base for the coral larvae to land and attach even if they survive the perils these tiny planula must face between fertilization and their maturity to a stage where they are ready to attach to something solid and begin a new coral colony.

Suitable substrate structure is absolutely necessary for the success of coral regeneration and reef regrowth. As coral restoration practitioners, we were aware of this problem from the beginning. Our analysis was verified by several professional marine biology experts. At that point, our goal became two-fold. Recreate habitat to encourage restoration of the local fisheries and make available as much compatible substrate as possible to facilitate natural coral regeneration. After much research and helpful advice from other reef restoration practitioners, we choose to follow in the footsteps of success and use a concrete formula that has a composition, chemical
balance and texture that coral planula find attractive.

The creative talents of our team have made it possible to create structures that meet a wide range of criteria. We want the structures to look reasonably organic, so they eventually blend in to the natural habitat. It is important that they be large enough and structured so that they serve to mitigate destructive wave action but small enough to be practical for handling and transport to outplant sites. We also need to consider how they will best serve the other marine life existing in the area. Obviously, materials cost and labor factor into the total picture. Whenever possible, we
incorporate various non-toxic skeletal materials like discarded PVC pipe sections.

Little by little we have developed some interesting and creative structural platforms that meet the criteria we set forth. Based on these prototypes, we will begin a production process that will let us set a schedule of continuous reef development in targeted areas. Already we are seeing changes in the populations and species numbers of marine life in our test areas. It will truly be exciting to watch what happens in the next few months if things keep moving in the direction they are now.

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