[Coral-List] translocation of corals

Naveen Namboodiri naveen_cas at yahoo.co.in
Fri Jun 3 13:41:57 EDT 2005

Dear All,

I had very recently joined an e-group concerned about
the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and found the
following message posted there. 

“ Can some of our ecologist and marine biologist
friends on the group tell us what they think of the
news item below. What are other experiences from
around the world? Does this kind of thing actually

Coral translocation in Gulf of Kutch MNP

In a first of its kind experiment for India, marine
biologists have relocated
over 300 coral formations in the Gulf of Kutch to
safer locations to protect
them from the risk of oil pipelines being laid by
Essar Oil. The National
Institute of Oceanography (NIO) has translocated over
20 species of corals
within the marine national park, situated 60 kms off
the coast of Jamnagar
district, a hub for oil refineries. A team of nine
marine biologists from INO
worked on the project for over four months

To prevent potential danger from crude oil pipelines,
sedimentation and
tourists, the corals have been picked up from the
inter-tidal area and relocated
in Narara, just one kilometre away from the original
location. The 2nd step will
involve moving some of the species 2-3 kms away from
their original location.

The project is being funded by Essar, which plans to
set up an oil refinery here.
During surveys conducted for the laying of the
pipelines in the Gulf the Forest
Department says, it realised that the corals could be
destroyed. In response the
company has agreed to finance the project of
relocating the corals.

The NIO team has said that the challenge before them
was not just to move the
corals but to find a safer location with the same
ecological condition. The
translocated corals have been tagged using acrylic for
monitoring their growth
in the new location

Source: 'Good news: Experts find safer home for
corals', The Indian Express,
08/04/05. “

There were both supportive and contrary remarks. I am
quoting one of the contrary remarks, which I felt is
possibly right. 

“Conservationists, however are dubious with this
translocation measure and reckon that it will
adversely affect marine ecology on the whole,
displacing all the species directly and indirectly
dependent on these corals. Corals serve as a breeding
ground and shelter for over half the marine species in
the waters. Other repercussions need to be considered.
Authorities need to take into account the livelihood
of the fishermen and the depleting fish stock.
Translocation is not a long-term solution and the
number of times corals will have to be relocated each
time another industry is set up.”

As mentioned in the remarks, a coral reef represents
not only the corals, but also the entire population of
associated organisms, each one of which has a separate
role in the environment. How would the translocation
program deal with the challenge of creating a similar
ecosystem with all its intricacies?

Any comments on this aspect is welcome and if the
technique is ecologically feasible, it certainly would
be a great respite to many of the reef ecosystems
subject to grave danger of being wiped out by such
development activities.

Thanks and Regs,

Naveen Namboodiri,

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