[Coral-List] News coral reef restoration Seychelles

Sarah Frias-Torres sfrias_torres at hotmail.com
Fri Apr 11 13:40:58 EDT 2014

Peter,I concur with you that we must not loose sight of the need to address CO2 emissions directly as well as other stressors affecting coral reefs, which might differ depending on each site (overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, etc). Without directly addressing and significantly reducing or eliminating such stressors, it's game over.
The Seychelles project I'm coordinating offers a bit of hope. During the 1998 massive El Nino, which coincided with the Indian Ocean Dipole (the "Indian El Nino"), about 97 % of the shallow coral reefs in the inner granitic islands of Seychelles died. Those coral reefs have not recovered to the levels prior to the 1998 disturbance. It seems the Seychelles coral reefs are strongly dependent on self recruitment. The coral reef restoration project I'm coordinating, uses nubbins (fragments) from the 3 % that survived the massive coral bleaching. This means, we are not growing corals that survive in the open ocean nurseries, but we are growing fragments of the corals that survived a major warming event. The Indian Ocean Dipole will come back again one day. Perhaps the restored coral reef will have a better chance of survival this time. I cannot provide numbers right now, as we are still completing the project and working on manuscripts, but we are already seeing positive changes in the coral reef we are bringing back to life. To see the long-term success of this effort, we'll have to follow up with monitoring over time, or until the next El Nino comes along.
This coral reef restoration effort focuses on using low cost solutions so the process can be replicated in other sites in Seychelles and other parts of the world with modest budgets. We recycle and upcycle the materials we use in our nurseries all the way to the tools we use during field operations. Sometimes we are a bunch of McGiver's in SCUBA gear fixing things with a toothbrush, a jerrycan and a hair elastic band (no kidding !). These are all topics I'm covering in the Toolkit currently in preparation.
I'm aware the pie of conservation dollars is small and we don't want to see any slices going into ill-conceived projects that promise restoration with no solid scientific support. But I think we can make the pie bigger, involve public and private sources of funding while working at the same time in science-based conservation and science-based restoration.  All the while, keeping an eye on CO2 emissions. 

Sarah Frias-Torres, Ph.D. Coordinator Reef Rescuers ProgramIsland Conservation Centre Nature Seychelles,Amitie, Praslin, Seychelleshttp://www.natureseychelles.org-and-Research CollaboratorSmithsonian-National Museum of Natural Historyat Smithsonian Marine Station, Fort Pierce, FL, USATwitter: @GrouperDocBlog: http://grouperluna.wordpress.comhttp://independent..academia.edu/SarahFriasTorres

> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> From: sale at uwindsor.ca
> Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2014 15:22:41 -0400
> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] News coral reef restoration Seychelles
> Hi Sarah and listers,
> Without in any way detracting from the sincere and significant effort Dr. 
> Frias-Torres and her colleagues are putting in on this Seychelles project, 
> I think one paragraph from the news article she pointed us to is telling:
> "While cultivating more resilient reefs is an important tactic for 
> mitigating the existing impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems, it 
> will not be an effective long-term solution. As long as energy production 
> continues to release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at a record pace, 
> oceans will continue to suffer.  Between 30 and 40 percent of CO2 released 
> into the atmosphere makes its way into surface water, including rivers, 
> lakes, and—of course—oceans"
> I am concerned that a number of projects are now getting significant 
> funding, and using considerable technical expertise and field effort to 
> establish coral nurseries, and plant out small colonies.  In most cases, 
> the 'selection of resistant corals' seems to come down to growing those 
> that survive in the nursery, and while there is lots of good news about 
> how well the corals do in the nursery there is little evidence of 
> long-term success once planted out.  If the factors responsible for 
> decline of coral communities are not dealt with, it is unlikely that coral 
> nurseries will make a significant dent in a downward trajectory for reefs 
> in that location.  Spending scarce conservation dollars on coral nurseries 
> may not be much more effective than spending them to create more paper 
> MPAs.  Neither approach solves the problem it is trying to address.
> I hope, for the sake of the Seychelles, that the corals being cultivated 
> are particularly resistant to warming/acidification.  I also hope we do 
> not lose sight of the need to address CO2 emissions directly.
> Peter Sale
> www.petersalebooks.com
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