Growing and replanting elkhorn and staghorn coral
In 2019 the San Pedro Tour Operators Association initiated a coral restoration project inspired by the Fragments of Hope Coral Restoration Project founded by Lisa Carne, which has seen great success at Laughing Bird Caye in southern Belize. With local marine biologists Miguel Alamilla and Valentine Rosado providing advisory and technical support and University of Belize biology students (and island young ladies) Fara Stephany Maza and Brittney Garbutt coordinating the project, steps are underway to grow and replant elkhorn and staghorn coral. Under the tutelage of Carne, and guidance from Alamilla and Rosado, the young biologists took several trips to the reef to setup anchored PVC frames. This first site is located inside of the popular diving and snorkeling area known as Tuffy. According to Rosado, the hope is to bring this snorkel site to the level of Laughing Bird Caye and make it as popular as Hol Chan. “The Placencia project is an inspiration because Laughing Bird Caye looks amazing with high coral cover and marine life and is the direct result of their restoration efforts. We believe we can replicate that success at each of our dive/snorkel sites,” he remarked.
Once the frames were installed, healthy fragments of elkhorn and staghorn coral were collected from other areas along the reef. The team then secured the fragments onto tiles that are fastened to the PVC frame. Here the fragments will continue to grow if they take well to the frames. “A lot of effort went into site selection, nursery construction, mother-site selection, monitoring, etc. We anticipate that in about ten months-time, each fragment will grow much larger, allowing us to ‘prune them’ and take the nursery fragments to out-plant at our target restoration sites. We hope to begin planting to target restoration sites at the end of this hurricane season,” explained Rosado.
Click here to read more on this project in the My Beautiful Belize Blog.
Photograph by the My Beautiful Belize Blog
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