Conservation - Reef Restoration Project with Oceanus AC Part II
Written by Rob Mukai on Dec. 02, 2018
This is the second installment of the Reef Restoration Project here in the north beach of Xcalak. You can read about the first part of the training here. In that first portion of the training, we learned about the reef eco-system, how the restoration works and we put in our first nursery with 70 Elkhorn coral fragments. Those fragments should be ready to replant in the next month, so stay tuned for that.
This time, we learned a few of the practicalities of building the nurseries. We got the measurements and specifications on how to build a frame nursery like the one we did last time.
We also learned how to mix the cement for the bases, and create the molds, and manufacture the bases.
We learned how to mix the cement for attaching the bases to the reef substrate using their specially designed frosting piping bag.
Finally, we put together a Christmas tree type nursery and practiced putting on the fragments so we would be ready for it when the time comes. You have to collect fragments from the ocean floor that have broken off, then you break them into the appropriate size and tie them to the branches of the tree. You can put on half of the fragments per branch on the boat then you have to put the branch through the main trunk and connect the rest underwater.
On the second day, we put in our second nursery, this time for staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis). The new nursery is different from the previous one which was a PVC frame attached to the sea floor. The "Christmas tree" type is anchored to the sea floor, and kept upright with a buoy. The staghorn fragments are hung from the tree like Christmas ornaments. Even though we were in shallow water, this requires scuba gear to stay down long enough to complete the work.
This one nursery will hold 48 fragments. We put in another anchor near this nursery, so if this one thrives, we can put another right next to it. Like the elkhorn coral, the staghorn is an endangered species, and is very important to the reef ecosystem. Hopefully as we get going with this project we can repopulate our reef with new colonies of elkhorn and staghorn coral.
Many thanks to the Xcalak north beach community that came out to help! In no particular order, Karen, Dave, Sara, Luc, Tamara, Allen, Susan, and all the way from Mahahual Jason! And many thanks to Oceanus AC for the training and helping us save our reef.