Cryptocorals

Our partner

And how your corals are planted on the field


We proudly partner with SECORE International, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration and conservation of our world’s coral reefs. They work with scientists, non-governmental and governmental organizations, and local stakeholders. They lead research on coral reproduction, implement novel coral restoration approaches, and reach out to the public via multiple media approaches.
Since 2002, they have been a pioneer in developing innovative technologies for effective and sustainable coral restoration on larger scales. By promoting coral genetic diversity in their restoration projects, they strengthen the reef resilience and give corals the chance to adapt to future climate conditions.

Our 3 plantation sites

Curaçao, Mexico & the Bahamas.

Curacao

Location: Caribbean Sea
Outplanted species: elkhorn coral, staghorn coral, mountainous star coral, boulder brain coral and others
Start date of the project: 2010

Curaçao, is a South Caribbean island situated about 60 km off the Venezuelan coast. It is surrounded by diversified reefs totaling about 130 km². Coral babies have been outplanted to various reef sites around Curaçao. Elkhorn corals, for instance, have been planted into the wave breaker zone, their natural habitat. The aim of the project is also to better understand sexual reproduction of endangered coral species and to apply the gained knowledge for reef restoration.

Bahamas

Location: Eleuthera Island, Bahamas
Outplanted species: mountainous star coral and symmetrical brain coral
Start date of the project: 2016

Climate change and coastal development, followed by land run off and pollution, as well as overfishing, sea-urchin die-offs, and coral diseases have altogether led to degraded reefs in the Bahamas. To reverse this reef decline, a coral reef restoration program has been started on Eleuthera Island together with local partners. First plans to outplant corals in 2017 were thwarted by Hurricane Irma and Maria. In 2018 researchers successfully collected and fertilized spawn of Mountainous Star Corals and Symmetrical Brain Corals, settled their larvae on settlement substrates and transferred them to the reef sites.

Mexico

Location: Yucatan Peninsula
Outplanted species: elkhorn coral and staghorn coral
Start date of the project: 2015

The Mexican Reef Restoration Project focuses on the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, the so-called Riviera Maya, where reef-building coral species such as the endangered elkhorn and staghorn corals have shrunken to alarmingly low numbers. Conservation and restoration efforts are therefore urgently needed. SECORE and its partners run reef restoration workshops each summer to raise and outplant sexually produced corals, in this way maintaining genetic diversity of corals on-site.

Plantation steps and cost structure

1Collecting coral gametes


Duration: 1 to 3 night dives
Equipment: boat, diving material, collection nets

Once a year, on cues from the lunar cycle and the water temperature, entire colonies of coral reefs simultaneously release their gametes into the ocean. This is the right time for the SECORE team to collect the eggs and sperm of the corals.

2Fertilization


Duration: several hours after coral spawning
Equipment: containers in different sizes, sea water

The collected coral spawn is brought on-shore and fertilized by mixing eggs and sperm from different parental coral colonies. Afterwards, the eggs need to be rinsed with fresh seawater to wash away unused sperm. This work is mostly done in a laboratory.

3Settlement of the coral larvae


Duration: several days after spawning
Equipment: substrates, floating pools, nurseries, diving material

Fertilized eggs develop into coral larvae, which are raised in tanks, boxes or pools, where they settle on different substrates (called Seeding Units) and form the first coral polyp. Depending on ocean conditions and water quality on-site, as well as on the species, coral babies are kept and reared in floating pools, mid-water nurseries or land-based nurseries for several weeks to months. The pools and nurseries provide a protected environment for the baby corals to grow.

4Outplanting


Duration: 2 days
Equipment: boat, diving material

Coral babies are transferred onto the reef in boxes, containing hundreds of Seeding Units, which are self-stabilizing on the ground and can be sown by divers on the reef by simply wedging them into crevices. One day, it may be possible to sow corals from a boat or with underwater drones.

5Monitoring restoration success


Duration: at least during the first year after outplanting, often much longer
Equipment: boat, diving material, measurement devices, camera, blue light

Monitoring corals' survival and growth is most important to validate the success of any restoration effort. There is also a need to evaluate habitat acceptance and the impact of the restored reef on the ecosystem.

SECORE team

Dr. Dirk Petersen
Founder and Executive Director
Dr. Margaret Miller
Research Director
SECORE Team and volunteers

Want to know more?