[Coral-List] Views on Coral Garden Projects

Ken Nedimyer sealife at terranova.net
Mon Mar 7 10:23:13 EST 2005

Your observations and experience mirror what We've observed here in the Keys 
with Acropora cervicornis.  I've been growing cervicornis on my live rock 
aquaculture farm in the Upper Keys for several years now and have had all 
the successes and failures you mentioned.  We only fragment in the cooler 
months now and when we do we have a 90%+/- survival rate over the next year. 
Outbreaks of white plague have followed big runoff events associated with 
heavy rain in the nearby everglades or over the island chain.  These runoff 
events are usually characterized by real green nasty water and usually the 
disease dies off soon after the blue oceanic water returns to the area.  We 
don't have any damsel fish on our cervicornis farm, and the blocks that 
house the corals are out in the middle of a sandy area, so snails and fire 
worms aren't a big problem.

In October of 2003 we transplanted six cervicornis colonies to a ship 
grounding site at Molasses reef and have had 100% survival.  This is a 
heavily dived area and the original colonies have been broken several times 
by divers, but in most cases the fragments have survived and the ones we 
found were successfully epoxied to the substrate.  There are now sixteen 
healthy colonies in the site and none have shown any sign of disease.

This is a small success story, but it was all done out of my own pocket to 
demonstrate to the sanctuary managers that it is a viable option for 
restoring this once abundant coral to the Florida reef tract.  I certainly 
support similar efforts throughout the Caribbean and I think that if planned 
out properly, they can result in considerable success.

Regarding predator removal, I agree that in a balanced system where the 
natural predator /prey relationships exist (such as a large, well 
established MPA) there should be no need to remove predators, but since 
there are no areas such as that, predator removal may be an effective short 
term tool.  I have been watching the snails literally eating away the last 
remaining A. palmata in a no take zone in the Keys, and because it's a no 
take zone, I can't remove the snails and give the coral a chance.

Regarding diadema, I could go on and on about this topic, but the quick 
bottom line is that I believe that they will play an extremely important 
role in the recovery of the Acroporids and other shallow water corals 
throughout the Caribbean.  I don't think we're going to get a lasting 
recovery of any Caribbean reefs without a recovery of the diadema (or some 
other herbivore that can graze the algae).

Ken Nedimyer, Florida Keys

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Hernandez Edwin" <coral_giac at yahoo.com>
To: "Stephen Box" <S.J.Box at exeter.ac.uk>; <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Sent: Sunday, March 06, 2005 10:11 PM
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Views on Coral Garden Projects

> Dear Stephen and fellow listers.
> Hola from Puerto Rico. It's a shame to hear such bad
> news from Roatan after so much promotion of coral
> gardens. Our Coral Reef Research Group at the
> University of Puerto Rico-San Juan, has been engaged
> with the Culebra Island Fishers Association,
> Coralations and Sociedad Ambiente Marino in a
> successful coral aquaculture and reef rehabilitation
> project in Culebra Island for the last two years.
> We established the Culebra Island Community-Based
> Coral Aquaculture and Reef Rehabibilation Program in
> April 2003 using plastic-covered wire mesh attached to
> concrete bases to grow stahorn coral, Acropora
> cervicornis. We are planning to use this methodology
> to rehabilitate shallow-water juvenile fish nursery
> ground areas in Culebra. Also, we will be launching in
> 2006 a reef rehabilitation initiative to restore
> bomb-cratered coral reefs in Culebra that have not
> recovered even after three decades from disturbance
> (Hernandez and Sabat, in review).
> We have achieved yearly surviving rates ranging from
> 85 to 99% through an adaptive management program. Our
> pilot project has grown already over 2000 colonies. In
> a separate project using even cheaper and lower
> technology (nails and plastic straws) we have been
> able to transplant harvested corals directly to the
> reef benthos and had a 99.7% success during the first
> year of the project.
> Some of the lssons learned so far.
> 1. Avoid locations close to urban/tourist development.
> Runoff events are capable of producing significant
> localized mortality events (that have also affected
> local reefs).
> 2. Disease or disease-like syndromes occur immediately
> followig runoff events.
> 3. Disease or disease-like syndromes also occur
> following blooms of unpalatable brown algae such as
> Lobophora variegata and/or Dictyota spp. Algae can
> trap sediment and algal/sediment contact seems to be
> the source of initial mortality for the coral.
> 4. Although damselfishes, fireworms and corallivorous
> snails are major suspected vectors of diseases such as
> White Plague-Type II (Hernandez, in preparation), no
> damselfishes were present in our farming sites when
> disease/syndromes affected isolated colonies.
> 5. Fireworms and snails have sporadically preyed upon
> some of our farm-raised corals, but no
> disease/syndrome has followed predation.
> 6. A bloom in a white-plague like syndrome occurred
> two weeks following tropical storm Jeanne (Sept. 2004)
> and caused partial to complete colony mortality in
> about 80% of A. cervicornis colonies in several
> Culebra reefs, but only in a few farm-raised colonies.
> 7. Disease/syndrome mortality has been clone-specific,
> and farming can allow to select for disease/syndrome
> resistant clones (sorry, no genetic studies yet) from
> different geographic locations.
> These results were already presented at the 57th Gulf
> and Caribbean Fisheries Institute Meeting at St.
> Petersburg, FL last November. Two manuscripts are
> being prepared for peer-reviewed journals.
> I don't know absolutely anything about the Roatan
> project. But I bet, factors such as depth, distance
> from the shore, distance from potential runoff
> sources, water quality (runoff pulses, sedimentation,
> sewage outfalls, or septic tank leakages), and
> sediment transport (sandblasting), or any combination
> of the above, can be factors to consider when
> attempting to determine possible mortality sources.
> Also, factors such as water temperature, distance from
> and location in relation to reef flats (where water
> temperature can show significal diel variation) can
> produce negative effects.
> Also, I'm wondering if timing of source fragment
> transplants had anything to do. My experience with A.
> cervicornis suggests that it can be suicidal to
> transplant cervicornis fragments between late spring
> and late summer months (May-October).
> 1. Water temperatures are higher, thus more stressful.
> 2. Corals have already compromised most of its energy
> into gonad development, thus reducing available energy
> sources to repair tissue damage and to begin new
> skeletal growth.
> Our experience in Culebra is that transplants do
> better when transplanting between December and April.
> Actually, our next round of harvesting and transplants
> will be carried out betweeen April 1 and 15.
> Also, it is paramount that you re-examine your farming
> unit structural design. A major lesson learned in
> Culebra was also that the wider the room below the
> wire mesh, the more fish grazing you'll have! Those
> farms that have only about 8-10 cm below the mesh
> required very frequent cleaning of algae (yes, by
> hand). But those that have 30-40 cm have never been
> cleaned in 1 year because fish grazing takes care of
> algae! Also, contrary to low structures, no snails
> have ever been observed in higher structures,
> suggesting that snail predators could have been also
> playing a major role. Moreover, fish recruitment rates
> on higher structures is also higher.
> Coral farming has a really outstanding potential to
> empower base communities, fishing villages, NGOs,
> resorts, etc. with a sustainable reef management tool
> that will serve to restore essential fish habitats, an
> entire coral functional group, and will attract
> snorkelers as well. Also, local communities can be
> easily trained to manage, protect and restore their
> own reefs with low-tech sustainable methods, instead
> of using humoungous artificial structures. It can
> become a useful educational tool and an empowering
> tool to foster coral reef conservation-oriented
> behaviors.
> Regarding Stephen concerns about getting rid of some
> corallivorous species, there is a paper by Margaret
> Miller et al.? 2003? in Coral Reefs about the
> potential positive effect of managing snail densities
> to reduce acroporid mortalities. I don't know about
> Roatan, but in PR triggerfish species are HIGHLY
> overexploited, and in spite of that, Diadema has only
> been capable of bouncing back in very isolated
> locations (Ruiz and Hernandez, in preparation), and A.
> cervicornis keeps dying all around. Therefore, I don't
> think there is a linear relationship among these.
> Thus, it doesn't seem to be a good idea start killing
> animals when there is no clear clue about their
> interactions with disease/syndrome outbreaks. Then,
> instead of eliminating animals, why don't you consider
> the possibility of engaging local communities into
> establishing and managing a no-fishing MPA???? Such a
> tool has been useful in restoring trophic webs in
> coral reefs, and by restoring fish communities, you
> should theoretically have a "balanced" community.
> However, that is not linear and is not always true,
> reef decline can occur even after no fishing
> regulations (Hernandez and Sabat, accepted in Coral
> Reefs).
> It's a shame that promotion can often become more
> significant than project's success.
> We would like to share the Culebra Island experience
> with other islands/nations in the Caribbean, but so
> far efforts to fund possible cross-visits and training
> sessions have resulted unsuccessful. Anyway, our
> future efforts will include: 1) a large-scale
> rehabilitation of shallow-water juvenile fish nursery
> grounds; 2) rehabilitation of bomb-cratered coral
> reefs; 3) test deepwater coral farming; 4) develop
> farming methods for other major reef-building species.
> If there is any person interested in knowing more
> about the Culebra Island Community-Based Coral
> Aquaculture and Restoration Program, or if any of you
> is interested in the possibility of developing
> low-tech coral aquaculture and reef rehabilitation
> methods, do not hesitate to contact us.
> Saludos!
> Edwin
> --- Stephen Box <S.J.Box at exeter.ac.uk> wrote:
>> Dear Coral List,
>> The "Coral Gardens Project" is currently running
>> pilot projects around the Bay
>> Islands in Honduras and doing a big promotional
>> drive within the dive tourism
>> and resort sector.
>> They are attempting to regenerate Acropora and
>> Porites species by attaching
>> cuttings from adult colonies to bare reef substratum
>> following a period of
>> "growing up" of the cuttings on racks or wires.
>> Since there is little information in the literature
>> about the validity of such
>> a scheme and their pilot on Roatan seems to have
>> produced few viable results,
>> I was hoping that list subscribers may have personal
>> anecdotes about whether
>> similar projects (across the Caribbean or the
>> Pacific) have actually had any
>> measurable success, or if they just take resources
>> and attention away from
>> other reef conservation initiatives.
>> List subscribers views on other aspects recently
>> promoted by the Coral Gardens
>> Project in Honduras such as;
>> the killing of Damsel fish and fire worms to prevent
>> the spread of coral
>> disease and the killing of Trigger fish to allow
>> urchin numbers to recover,
>> would also be appreciated.
>> Regards,
>> Steve
>> Steve Box
>> PhD Candidate
>> Roatan
>> Honduras
>> Steve Box
>> Marine Spatial Ecology Lab
>> School of Biological Sciences
>> University of Exeter
>> Prince of Wales Rd
>> Exeter
>> EX4 4PS
>> _______________________________________________
>> Coral-List mailing list
>> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
> Edwin A. Hernandez-Delgado, Ph.D.
> University of Puerto Rico
> Department of Biology
> Coral Reef Research Group
> P.O. Box 23360
> San Juan, P.R. 00931-3360
> Tel (787) 764-0000, x-4880
> Fax (787) 764-3875
> e-mail: coral_giac at yahoo.com
> __________________________________________________
> Do You Yahoo!?
> Tired of spam?  Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
> http://mail.yahoo.com
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

More information about the Coral-List mailing list