Our Perspectives


What Does Coral Reef Restoration Actually Look Like?

What Does Coral Reef Restoration Actually Look Like?

by | Dec 9, 2018 | What We Do

How coral restoration works…

Get a behind the scenes look at what it takes to rebuild reefs, and how Coral Restoration Panama is helping reef recovery in the Caribbean.

Spoiler alert: it’s a lot of hard work, and totally cool

A diver cutting clones from resilient “parent” specimens which will be placed in an open water “line” nursery or of tiny cement pucks in a land-based nursery until they have grown into a clone large enough to plant in an artificial reef structure.

A Coral Nursery

We install nursery trees in protected nooks in the sea near Isla Solarte. The little coral babies are attached to our nursery structure where they are routinely checked, “cleaned” and measured for growth progress. 

One of the many amazing discoveries in recent years about coral growth is that the healthy clones from a similar “mother” can actually “sense” that they are near other clones from the same coral. As a result, they grow at a MUCH faster rate than usual to rejoin the other pieces, resulting incredible growth rates.

Building a new home

Using recycled and repurposed materials, a frame is created for the artificial reef. It is covered using a sea and wildlife safe type of concrete that coral clones will want to build their new homes on. Once the structures have been formed and dried, we use our trusty transport Musa (the boat) to float the reef to its new home,where we install it on the seafloor.

Once the clones in the nursery are large enough, they are transferred from the nursery tree to the new reef. As the corals on the reef rebuild, all types of fish and creatures find a new home in the reef. And thanks to the returning fish population, the local indigenous communities in Bocas Del Toro have a renewed food source.

The reefs and mangrove islands protect the archipelago

As essential parts of the ecosystem, the newly installed reefs work in tandem with the mangrove islands to protect the larger islands of Bocas Del Toro from further erosion and ocean events where a high tide or rising sea levels can threaten the rest of the archipelago.

The result of coral restoration is an entire system of conservation that starts with just one brave little coral clone!

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