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Baby Brain Corals outplanted on a Curaçaoan reef

- Announcement
August has been a very busy month for Valérie Chamberland and Kelly Latijnhouwers on Curaçao. The scientists collected the spawn of grooved brain corals to test their larvae’s preference for different settlement substrate designs and outplanted them to the reef afterwards.

The grooved brain corals (Diploria labyrinthiformis) growing on the Holiday Beach Reef in Curaçao released their gametes eleven to thirteen days after the late full moon in July. "We collected spawn from seven colonies, spread over three nights." SECORE Research Technician Kelly Latijnhouwers reports. 

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The new in situ setup to run replicated settlement experiments (Kelly Latijnhouwers)

 

The resulting larvae were settled on SECORE tetrapods with different characteristics in the brand new in situ settlement containers. The set-up is deployed at the same location as our in situ larval rearing pools, in a channel alongside the Curaçao Sea Aquarium. The containers serve as ‘mini in situ larval rearing pools’ within our larger pools, so that the team can run replicated settlement experiments to test for the most suitable substrate.

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Maarten Hoftijzer (Wageningen University) and Evan Culbertson (Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center) outplant grooved brain baby corals on a reef in front of the Curaçao Sea Aquarium (Kelly Latijnhouwers)

 

The brain coral larvae settled successfully, and after they had metamorphosed and started forming a skeleton, Kelly Latijnhouwers and her team transferred them to the wild. On August 22nd, a total of 90 tetrapods, each harboring several coral settlers, were outplanted onto the reef in front of the Curaçao Sea Aquarium. On each tetrapod, one coral is aimed at surviving in the end and hopefully will grow into a new coral colony. After a few months of monitoring, we will know how many of them were able to fight threats such as predation and overgrowth by turf algae and are on their way to become adult coral colonies.

Since August 24th, the SECORE scientists on Curaçao have been diving on a daily basis to collect the long awaited Acroporid spawn. More soon…

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SECORE's lead partners are:

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
California Academy of Science
The Nature Conservancy

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