[Coral-List] An Active Strategy to Respond to Severe Coral Bleaching
abowdenkerby at gmail.com
Fri Oct 23 15:30:43 EDT 2015
I recently proposed to the list a more proactive approach to managing
severe bleaching, through a combination of predator removal and coral
gardening of the bleaching resistant corals. I have gotten a request from
Kiribati for assistance, and I am also preparing for the possible mass
bleaching event that some models are predicting will hit Fiji and Vanuatu
in 2016. I have put together a Global Giving program online through our
Fiji-registered NGO Corals for Conservation:
Shorter url for Twitter, SMS, or Facebook: https://goto.gg/21872
Globalgiving UK link (UK donations are partially matched by the UK
If you support this novel approach, please share the urls and consider
either donating or possibly collaborating.
To recap the background: From my experience in Fiji in 2000, post bleaching
coral predator abundance can become extreme (relative to live coral cover),
when mass coral die-offs occur. The hungry predators, faced with a
decreased food supply quickly kill off the few survivors of mass bleaching.
I hypothesize that this post-bleaching mortality of bleaching resistant
corals is strongly inhibiting the adaptive potential of coral reefs to
respond to warming seas.
The proposed approach by no means reduces the need to address the root
causes of coral reef decline: controlling greenhouse gasses, improving
water quality, and establishing no-take MPAs. However, it offers an
alternative to passively watching the mass die-offs and doing nothing in
the short-term to increase the survival of the resilient corals.
We have an opportunity to trial the effectiveness of intervention methods
whereby communities, dive companies, and even resorts can actively protect
distinct sections of coral reef from post-bleaching coral mortality through
predator removal. In addition, we plan to couple this activity with the
wider collection of fragments of unbleached heat-tolerant corals from reefs
where manpower or logistics prevents effective predator control, to ensure
their survival within coral nurseries. These corals will be cultivated
into “mother colonies” and trimmed to produce second generation fragments
at one year, for use in reinforcing patches of climate-adapted reef created
by regular predator control interventions.
If anyone in a severely bleached area has the resources to trial either of
these activities (predator removal or collection/ cultivation of
non-bleached corals), it would be good to work together to implement
similar experimental methods (with proper control sites for comparison), in
order to develop a larger data set.
Our other Global Giving project: Happy Chickens for Food Security and
Environment (in support of community-based MPAs), has raised the funds to
start the project in Vanuatu, and we have also succeeded in distributing
over 7 thousand village-appropriate chicks to Fijian communities, including
remote communities on Taveuni, Vanua Levu, and Kadavu islands, including
Fiji’s oldest community-based and legally gazetted MPA, at Ono, Kadavu. You
can read the reports (and donate) at:
Sincere thanks to all who support these two out-of-the-box projects that
would otherwise not be possible.
Austin Bowden-Kerby, PhD
Corals for Conservation
P.O. Box 4649 Samabula, Fiji Islands
Sustainable Environmental Livelihoods Farm
Km 20 Sigatoka Valley Road, Fiji Islands
More information about the Coral-List