Reef Rehabilitation on Saba, Dutch Caribbean Using a Coral Nursery

Authors: Forrest Courtney*, Samford University, Jennifer Rahn, Samford University , Leslie Revel, Saba Conservation Foundation (at time of research)
Topics: Oceanography, Coastal and Marine, Environmental Science
Keywords: Coral Restoration
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The deterioration of coral reefs globally due to disease, extreme temperature fluctuations, pollutants, and many other variables has resulted in the need for effective rehabilitation efforts. One such effort is the implementation of a coral nursery; there are several approaches to this method. In this study, we attempt to rehabilitate coral reefs surrounding the Dutch Caribbean island, Saba, by successfully cultivating Acropora cervicornis fragments in a mid-water floating nursery. By collecting coral fragments scavenged from the sea floor or rescued from island development projects, we attempt to mirror the asexual fragmentation process that A. cervicornis naturally performs. The nursery is in the calmer waters on the leeward side of the island to provide a protected growth environment. The coral fragments hang from tree and ladder-like structures suspended in the water column which provides protection from sediment coverage. The location of the structures allows multiple divers ample workspace for cleaning, maintaining, and analysis of the nursery. Over a two-year period, the nursery saw an average height change of 146.63mm and an average width change of 139.68mm. After review of current growth records, we estimate if transplantation is successful the implementation of a floating coral nursery in the Caribbean could have a lasting impact on reef rehabilitation and ocean health as a whole.

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