07 - 01 - 2023
The rack nursery is finished, and there are about 160 fragments on it. All of the corals on the structure are from the Pocillopora genus, and most of them will get big enough to be transplanted within the next 8 months. A plastic cable tie and the rope itself are used to fasten each coral to the rope. This should ensure attachment of the fragment to the rope within the following one/two months and rapid development. The beginning of the dry season has marginally altered water conditions, and turbidity has increased. Despite this, all of the fragments have developed, and the death rate in all of the structures is really low. Interestingly, fragments planted on the "Feridhoo" iron nursery develop at a substantially faster rate than any other buildings.
10 - 12 - 2022
The nurseries are complete after weeks of planning, construction, and field work! The tree structure currently comprises 112 fragments (8 fragments on each branch for 14 branches). All of the fragments on the tree structure are Acropora branching corals. Because of their shape, these corals are easy to attach to the tree structure and the risk of losing them is minimal. The usage of fishing nylon monofilament has shown to be an excellent option for reducing nursery cleaning and maintenance time. Algae cannot securely attach to the monofilament, which can be easily and rapidly cleaned with the hands or a soft sponge. The following two months will be crucial for fragment survival and adaption to the new environment. Even the rack nursery is nearly finished, with the majority of fragments already placed. Keep an eye out for the next rack update!
15 - 11 - 2022
We have completed the first transplantation cycle, relocating all of the fragments from the rack nursery to the reef. To reduce the failure of epoxy attachments, the new fragments were transplanted in the reef, tying them to nails firmly planted inside the rock with plastic cable ties. This new technique appears to be very promising. The next few weeks will be critical for the transplanted fragments' natural attachment. We are currently improving the rack nursery design in order to increase the number of fragments that can be hosted and to make tagging and cleaning operations easier. The new tree structure has been re-deployed in the sea, but in a new location with much better environmental conditions in terms of current and turbidity than the previous one. We are preparing the new area for a second tree structure that will be deployed soon.
25 - 10 - 2022
A new student has joined our team for an internship, and he is now involved in all aspects of the coral restoration project. All of the tree nursery fragments were successfully transplanted back into the reef. Three transplantation sites have been chosen and marked at three different depths. Each location could support between fifteen and twenty corals. Until now, two main attachment methods have been tested: epoxy and cement fixation. Despite not always adhering properly to the substrate, epoxy appears to be the best choice in terms of preparation effort and time consumption. The three nurseries have been removed from the water in order to make some design changes. The rack nursery was properly cleaned, and new fragments were added to the cones. Cone A now has 60 fragments, cone B has 40 fragents, cone C has 40, and cone D has 20. New information on coral survival at transplantation sites will be available soon.
18 - 09 - 2022
The internship programme with our first students from the University of Padova has concluded. We have deployed three new cone nursery structures around the island in the last few months, which can hold up to 180 new fragments. Most of the fragments on both the tree and the rack nurseries will be ready for transplantation in a few weeks. Preliminary research on the best transplantation area must be conducted. Few fragments will be removed to evaluate the suitability of the chosen site (temperature, depth, sedimentation conditions, etc.) and to determine the most effective attachment method to minimise fragment detachment or unwanted damage. The tree nursery will be the first to be depleted. The tree will then be removed from the water, thoroughly cleaned, and the number of branches increased to double the number of fragments that can be hosted.
01 - 09 - 2022
We continue to expand the number of corals in our nurseries whilst maintaining the structures. Since our last update we have rescued over 50 fragments that are doing well in their new nurseries. Our new FERIDHOO shaped nursery is fixed well and coral continue to be added to it over time. We often check it and find it is already a big hit with the local wildlife. One charismatic Stingray has taken up residence in the cave behind it and now acts as its guardian. If you do visit do be careful not to disturb our curious ray. In the coming months we hope to expand the number of nursery corals further, get ready to transplant them back to the reef and prepare more initiatives with the local community. Stay tuned for more!
17 - 08 - 2022
What we have seen already in this early part of the experiment is that our nurseries work. We have shown we can take injured coral and keep them safe that they can grow. We have given a second chance to over 100 corals, some of which have grown nearly 190% their original size in 6 months. There is more work to do. We will continue to grow and monitor our corals and when ready restore them to the reef. To help maximise our effort we have doubled the number of nurseries we will be using and plan on rescuing new coral for them in the coming days. We would like to thank our supporters, coral adopters, Council of Feridhoo and our interns from the University of Padua in helping us with this mission
28 - 07 - 2022
It has been six months since we started gorwing our corals. Our goal with this project is to take small fragments of damaged corals, place them in nurseries to grow and return them to breathe new life in the reefs. There are other coral restoration projects around the globe trying to do the same thing but what we have learned from them is every nursery needs to be specific to the location. This is because corals are sensitive creatures, their growth and survival is due to lots of factors including water movement, light levels, freshwater input, predation, depth and many more. As such we have been experimenting with different locations, nursery designs and attachment methods to find what suits our corals best. This has not been easy. It takes a long time to grow corals, even the fastest species grow 10cm per year and the slowest <1cm a year. So it can be a while before we know what works.