Reef Rescuers Webinar with Dr. Phanor H. Montoya-Maya

In this webinar presented by Reef Resilience, Dr. Phanor H Montoya-Maya discusses the effectiveness of a large-scale coral restoration project in Seychelles, restoring coral reef ecosystem services, and building reef resilience and resistance to bleaching.

In 1998 coral bleaching in the Seychelles resulted in up to 97% loss of branching and plating corals. From 2005-2011 scientist observed a low level of recovery, 1% per year with low levels of coral settlement and loss of structural reef complexity. They realized a passive strategy to coral recovery was not working and the Reef Rescuers project was born. Reef Rescuers is the first large-scale coral transplantation project in the Indian Ocean. In 2011 Nature Seychelles launched the project with funding from USAID and Global Environmental Facility in an attempt to restore the structural complexity of coral reef with species that are resistance to bleaching and represent the corals of the Seychelles.
The project covered more than 1 hectare, with thousands of corals. To select the corals they survey the reefs and found that pocilopora and Acropora species dominated the reef after bleaching and noted they were fast growing and known to add structural complexity to the reef. Researchers harvested 9 species of coral and cut them into 10 cm fragments, placing them on an underwater rope and net nurseries, and leaving them to grow for at least one year. To ensure the corals had the best chance of survival, the corals were cleaned, monitored and competition from algae and other biofouling organisms were removed.
Corals were removed when they reached 15cm or more usually about 16 months after growing. After four years of the project, they built a total of 12 nurseries that held more than 40,000 coral fragments. They had a 75% survival rate and replanted more than 5000 square meters of corals or more than 24,000 nursery-grown corals.
This webinar highlights the need to consider large-scale coral reef restoration as a cost-effective tool to include in the MPA manager’s toolbox.