What We Do
How Coral Restoration Works
The Secret Sauce of Coral Restoration
The local fisheries are suffering in tandem with reef structure collapse, and the first step is to instigate a rapid recovery of fish habitat. With a bare or destroyed sea floor, coral has a harder time recovering. When we create a fish habitat first, made from “coral growth encouraging” ingredients (it’s all about the pH levels), coral clones can rebuild a reef so much faster.
The earliest lesson we learned about coral colony restoration?
Give fish a home, first.
Our founder began his coral restoration studies by exploring what others were doing around the world. He quickly learned that one of the key variables in success of reef rebuilding is establishing a healthy, diverse fish habitat.
How Coral Restoration Works
How it works
Fish Habitat Construction
Coral restoration starts with building habitat for fish. It might seem like an unusual first step, but coral demonstrate recovery more effectively when they are not placed onto an open sea floor, and when they already have a flourishing neighborhood of fish who help maintain the reef ecosystem with their feeding and reproduction cycles. Fish habitat is so hard to come by that we’ve had fish claim their homes inside the cement structures before they are fully placed on the ocean floor!
Tending & Growth
Protected inside the nursery, the coral clones have a chance to recouperate and grow, while the original clones become “mothers” that continue to provide clone clippings – and asexual propogation of the coral accelerates!
Several years ago, a hobbyist coral researcher realized that a coral could “regrow” itself from a piece as small as a single polyp. When the two pieces are placed near to each other – they grow INCREDIBLY fast – MUCH faster than happens naturally over time. (It’s like they can sense each other and grow faster to reconnect!). We’re talking growth in 3-4 years that looks like 30/40 year growth.
That discovery has reached the coral restoration world and is now being used to accelerate coral growth all over the globe.
Coral cloning works a lot like gardening and plant selection. Caribbean Coral Restoration scours the archipelago for samples of resilient coral species; whether they are demonstrating resilience to extreme water temperatures, nearby pollution, or simply being the tough coral that resist collapse along with the destroyed reef – clones from these sites are collected and brought back to the nursery where they are installed in a protected habitat to recover, grow and multiply.
Depending on the specie, coral clones are grown in shallow water nursery cages, added to our on land tank systems, or installed on coral trees that have been built and installed on the ocean floor.
Reseed & Protect
Once the clones have regained health, and grown to an appropriate size, they are replanted onto the established artificial reefs. The next phase for Caribbean Coral Restoration is testing and validating which sites can be recovered around the islands, and which sites need more “on land protections” (like reducing effluents being dumped in the water and pollution) before they can sucessfully be a healthy home for the recovering reefs.
With the installed reefs, reseeded with resilient coral and home to a diverse collection of fish, protected from overfishing and pollution – the world class reefs that used to thrive in Bocas can begin their long journey to recovery.