[Coral-List] Monitoring of worlds largest coral propagation and planting project in Antigua / Novel Coral Dip

Todd Barber reefball at reefball.com
Sun Oct 10 10:23:36 EDT 2010

A team from Reef Ball Foundation including myself and Dr. Catherine Jadot,
Ben Chisholm and Doug Hollingsworth guided by Ashton WIlliams of Dive
Antigua was allowed for the first time, since Allen Stanford's arrest (who
owned the property the reef was built on), access to Maiden Island to
conduct a monitoring of over 10,000 propagated and rescued corals that were
planted on over 3,200 Reef Balls in Nov 03-Jan 04.  [About 7 years of

I must say after many years of doing this work, it was stunning to see the
incredible results.  Particularly spectaclar where the Acropora...some that
were planted the size of my thumb had matured to be larger than me in both
length, width and girth.  Nearly all of the propagated (fragmented to thumb
size)  Acropora showed substaintial growth although some that were planted
as large colonies did not survive. Some Porites planted thumb size where now
larger than a beachball.  And we had amazing survival rates in all the brain
coral transplants.  Diversity was high (or greater) than comparable nearby
reefs.  Soft corals planted showed only about a 30% survival rate.  Planted
fire coral did "too" well and completely overtook many Reef Balls it was
planted on and although quite beautiful in the future planting efforts
should probably skip fire corals in favor of natural settlement.  Layer Cake
(Howard Hudson style) Reef Balls did very well demonstrating that complexity
in coral reef environments is indeed more important than in subtropical or
cold water reefs.

The reef has suffered some of the same effects as on natural reefs.  The
public is now allowed access to the island and during Easter the island is
swarmed with campers and areas of the reef that were easily accessable in
shallow water showed signs of people breaking the more fragile corals.
There are also new signs of water quality issues....on the day of our
monitoring  was the worst visibility anyone could recall (According to
Ashton) and there where signs of planted elkhorn corals that grew to
substantial size and were completely bleached.  Since the area was also
opened to fishing, there was a visible decline in targeted
species....particularly mangrove snapper.

Even in the low visibility conditions, we were able to take hundreds of
photos.  I am posting those first to my facebook albums as this updates
faster than our automated project database which will post online to our
website within a week or two.

The team is returning in a couple of months so we are not going to publish a
report until after the second visit when we'll attempt to get better photos
and measurements if water quality allows.  I just though it would be useful
for folks out there doing rehabilitation work on corals to know that YES it
can work even on a large scale!  This was very exciting to me and I hope our
success with inspire others to continue rehabilitation efforts.

And on a completely different subject, one of our researchers in Mexico
found a statistically significant increase in survival rates on propagated
Acropora using a new antiseptic/anti-predation dipping solution.  (9 coral
fragments out of 50 died within 5 days using standard iodine dip, whereas 1
coral out of 50 died using the new solution).  This is very
preliminary...but indicates to us that more formal study is required to see
if we can determine not only if it works robustly but also the mechanism of


Todd R Barber
Chairman, Reef Ball Foundation
3305 Edwards Court
Greenville, NC 27858
252-353-9094 (Direct)
941-720-7549 (Cell & Goggle Voice)
toddbarber Skype

www,reefball.org (Reef Ball Foundation)
www.artificialreefs.com (Designed Artificial Reefs)
www.reefbeach.com (Reefs for Beach Erosion)
www.eternalreefs.com (Memorial Reefs)
www.reefball.com (Reef Ball Foundation)

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