SECORE and partners expand coral restoration efforts in the Bahamas
photo: A diver is doing a survey at one of the reefs that SECORE and its partners will be working on in Eleuthera. (Kevin Davidson, Angari Foundation)
In Abaco, SECORE is collaborating with Dr. Craig Dahlgren (Perry Institute for Marine Science - PIMS) and Dr. Nicole Fogarty (Nova Southeastern University - NSU) to investigate the potential for the Acropora hybrid (Acropora prolifera) in large scale outplanting and to implement larval restoration in the Bahamas. In Eleuthera, SECORE will work closely with PIMS and the Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI) as a focal coral restoration research site, including the focal attention of a new SECORE Research Scientist.
These new research and conservation activities in the Bahamas will start much earlier than originally planned, because restoration work on the US Virgin Islands, which was scheduled for the summer of 2018, had to be postponed due to the enormous damage caused by hurricanes in September 2017. "Category 5 Hurricanes Irma and Maria ravaged the island and destroyed thousands of homes as well as boats and marinas. It will take at least another year to rebuild the island’s infrastructure that we heavily rely on for our coral restoration work", says SECORE’s Executive Director Dr. Dirk Petersen.
The Bahamas have not been hit as hard by hurricanes last year, so that Acropora spp. populations in Abaco offer good prospects for coral restoration research while Eleuthera provides good infrastructure. "We appreciate the partnership and collaboration of Cape Eleuthera Institute, whose location gives immediate access to reefs hosting a great diversity of boulder corals we want to work with. Furthermore, it provides extensive wet and dry laboratories so that we can start working right away," states SECORE’s Research Director Dr. Margaret Miller.
Photos: In March 2018 Margaret Miller, Craig Dahlgren and Nicole Forgaty visited the Bahamas to look for best larval restoration sites. left) The scientists on their charter flight to Andros (Nicole Fogarty); mid) The Island School of the Cape Eleuthra Institute. (Margaret Miller); right) A shallow Acropora reef off the East side of Eleuthra (Margaret Miller).
Research activities will start in July 2018 kicking off the Acropora hybrid study in Abaco. SECORE is also planning evaluation testing in Eleuthera for newly revised in situ larval pools and larval Seeding Units in parallel with our teams in Curacao and Mexico. "This great collaboration will involve full time CEI/PIMS field technician staff working together with NSU students and SECORE staff, including a new SECORE Research Scientist starting in fall 2018", says SECORE’s Executive Director Dr. Dirk Petersen.
The Global Coral Restoration Project is a joint initiative by SECORE International, the California Academy of Sciences, the Nature Conservancy and other partners. It aims to study and apply coral restoration techniques and practices on a larger scale, integrating coordinated conservation, education and outreach efforts. By "seeding" reefs with sexually reproduced coral offspring, this project aims to help maintain corals' genetic diversity which in turn maximizes their ability to adapt to future conditions.