Coral Reef Rehabilitation

Principal Investigator: Dr Suzanne Palmer

Caribbean coral reefs have shifted from coral-dominated to algal-dominated reefs and the coral reefs in Portland are no exception. Active coral restoration aims to transplant nursery-grown corals out onto the algal-dominated reefs to increase the number of corals on the degraded reefs. Other methods such as artificial reefs have been used to provide suitable substrates for coral settlement and growth above the algal canopy. What are the best methods to use across Portland’s reefs? How successful and effective are these different methods in reef rehabilitation?

Ongoing projects at Alligator Head Marine Laboratory include rope nurseries and tree-style nurseries and involve the testing of methods for nursery set-up, monitoring, and outplanting. The rope nurseries at the marine lab have proved a simple, cheap and effective way to grow the staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) and have involved the training of local stakeholders and volunteers to assist in maintenance and monitoring. The Christmas tree-style nurseries are being used to grow a range of reef-building coral species, to determine their growth rates and survival, and assess their potential in reef rehabilitation.