Steps in the construction of underwater coral nursery, an essential component in reef restoration acts

Shai Shafir*, Jaap Van Rijn, Baruch Rinkevich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Scopus citations

Abstract

Many coral reefs worldwide are rapidly declining, but efficient restoration techniques are not yet available. Here, we evaluate methodologies for reef restoration based on the "gardening concept". A floating mid-water prototype nursery was placed at 6 m depth (14 m above sea-bottom) within the nutrient-enriched environment of a fish farm (Eilat, Red Sea). Ten colonies from five branching coral species provided 6,813 fragments (0.5-3 cm height). The fragments, each attached to a plastic pin, were inserted into plastic nets that were tied to a rope-net floating nursery. After 144 nursery days, only 13.1% of the fragments died and 21.2% were detached by mechanical forces. Small colonies ready for transplantation developed within 144-200 days. Ramets' ecological volumes increased 13-46 folds and their heights by a factor of 3.5. After 306 days, the ecological volumes of the colonies increased 147-163 fold as compared to original volumes (revealing a daily growth rate constant of 1.67% during the first 5-10 months) and height values by a factor of six. Building and maintenance costs of the nursery were low. This nursery prototype demonstrates the feasibility of the coral "gardening concept" by fulfilling several important needs, namely, mass production of coral colonies at low costs, high survivorship, fast growth, short nursery phase and improved methodologies for handling farmed colonies.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)679-687
Number of pages9
JournalMarine Biology
Volume149
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments We thank D. Gada, M. Zooaretz, D. Brand, N. Berkovich and J. Botechiano for their help and to two referees for constructive suggestions. The study was supported by the BARD US-Israel Bi-National Agricultural Research and Development (3319-02 R), by the World Bank/GEF project and by INCO-DEV project (REEFRES)

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