Thursday, July 25, 2024

Coral Disease Is Causing Changes To Restoration Strategy In Bonaire

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The Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire announced this week that it is adjusting its coral restoration strategy in the midst of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) on Bonaire’s reefs.

Since the confirmation of SCTLD on Bonaire’s reefs in March 2023, STINAPA has implemented several measures to mitigate its spread, including limiting access to affected reef areas and the application of antibiotic treatments on affected corals.

Outplanted great star coral (Montastraea cavernosa) between two diseased colonies in a reef "red zone." (Photo Credit: RRFB)
Outplanted great star coral (Montastraea cavernosa) between two diseased colonies in a reef “red zone.” (Photo Credit: RRFB)

As part of an integrated conservation and restoration strategy, Reef Renewal Bonaire says it’s refocusing its efforts on bolstering the populations of nine coral species that have been significantly impacted by the disease. This strategic shift will be executed in two fundamental ways:

  1. Increasing Abundance of Resilient Coral Colonies: Reef Renewal Bonaire has spent the last two months identifying and selecting coral colonies in severely impacted areas that have displayed a certain level of “resistance.” These colonies will be brought to the nursery for propagation and subsequently outplanted to the reef.
  2. Enhancing Genetic Diversity: The organization assists coral reproduction and genetic recombination using larval propagation to increase the diversity and strength of existing coral populations.
Outplanted lobed star coral (Orbicella annularis) on the reef. (Photo Credit: RRFB)
Outplanted lobed star coral (Orbicella annularis) on the reef. (Photo Credit: RRFB)

Reef Renewal Bonaire Chief Operating Officer Francesca Virdis summarized the organization’s recent endeavors, stating:

“Over the past few months, we’ve surveyed highly affected ‘red zone’ areas to monitor and map coral colonies of various species. After identifying colonies which have exhibited ‘resistance’ to the disease thus far, we are scheduled to begin propagating them by the end of this month. Furthermore, during the May spawning event of grooved brain coral (Diploria labyrinthiformis), another highly susceptible species, we reared hundreds of thousands of coral larvae in our floating ‘CRIB’ and successfully outplanted more than 25,000 young settlers onto the reef. Each of these settlers possesses a unique genetic makeup, equipping them with enhanced resilience to ongoing diseases and other stressors.”

For more info on Reef Renewal Bonaire’s activities, go to reefrenewalbonaire.org.

Francesca Virdis assesses coral settlement on larval substrates in RRFB’s floating larvae nursery. (Photo Credit: Lorenzo Mittiga)
Francesca Virdis assesses coral settlement on larval substrates in RRFB’s floating larvae nursery. (Photo Credit: Lorenzo Mittiga)
John Liang
John Lianghttps://www.deeperblue.com/
John Liang is the News Editor at DeeperBlue.com. He first got the diving bug while in High School in Cairo, Egypt, where he earned his PADI Open Water Diver certification in the Red Sea off the Sinai Peninsula. Since then, John has dived in a volcanic lake in Guatemala, among white-tipped sharks off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, and other places including a pool in Las Vegas helping to break the world record for the largest underwater press conference.

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