[Coral-List] Cost of Moving Coral Heads?

Robert Bourke rbourke at OCEANIT.COM
Tue Oct 6 15:27:30 EDT 2015

Okay, Coral Movers;
	I'm guessing that many of us who have worked around coral reefs for the past few decades have had occasion to move corals from one place to another on a reef, or perhaps to aquariums, and the cost does not appear high.  So what's the big deal?  How hard could this be?  Let's look at the case provided below by Clark and Edwards.  According to the abstract, from 1981 (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00334342 ) they installed on a shallow reef
	60 sq m of concrete mat
	530 coral transplants of 6 species  (~9/m^2)
And monitored them for at least 3.5 years finding that
	Survival at 18 mo's was 51%  (4.5 colonies/m^2)
	Natural recruitment added 18 corals/m^2

If this work were duplicated today in U.S. Waters it would require
Man Hours 			Task		
100				USACE 404 permit -
50				State 401 Water Quality Certification	
40				Essential Fish Habitat Report, NOAA
40				Biological Evaluation, USFWS
120				Environmental Assessment Report

... or about 250 man-hours of work  ($25K?)before any actual work was accomplished.

Add to this the boat and crew time to purchase and install the concrete mats ($5K?), the man-hour costs to actually collect and transplant the 530 corals (11 min ea = 100 hr = $10K)   and the costs associated with performing surveys and reports at 1-,2-, 3-, 6-, 12-, and 18-month intervals (a permit requirement)  ($13K) ......

And you end up with a total cost of about $53K, or $100/coral head......

.....(okay, so I fudged the numbers a bit to get it to come out even)....

The bottom line is that it costs a Whole Lot of money to transplant corals in our present day regulatory environment, and we need to make sure that we are spending this money wisely to optimize the quantity and quality of ecosystem functions and services that are being gained through this exercise.  

In the cited example (of which I only read the abstract) it would appear that stabilizing the substrate with the concrete mats alone, resulted in more coral colonies accreting to the substrate than were actually transplanted.  Perhaps this is a good analogy, to the effect that if we are able to use funds wisely to repair an environment and provide suitable habitat conditions, we won't need to transplant the corals.


Bob Bourke

-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Jean Jaubert
Sent: Monday, October 05, 2015 10:12 AM
To: Delbeek, Charles <CDelbeek at calacademy.org>
Cc: coral list <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Cost of Moving Coral Heads?

October 5, 2015

Dear Charles,

35 years ago Claude Bouchon, his wife and I transpanted coral heads, which otherwise would have been destroyed because of the enlargement of the port of Aqaba (Jordan). The operation was really cheap because we used large bags filled with air to lift them and then a small boat was powerful enough to tow them from the original site to a safe place

Bouchon C., Jaubert J., Bouchon-Navaro Y. (1981). Evolution ofa semi-artificial reefbuilt by transplanting coral heads. Tethys 10: 

Best regards,

Jean Jaubert

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>There have been some recent examples of moving corals for dredging and 
>port projects such in Key West and in the Port of Miami. I am curious, 
>what does it cost to move corals in terms of real dollars?
>Is it charged by the piece? By the size? By surface area?
>Input from anyone who has been involved in something like this would be 
>Best regards,
>J. Charles Delbeek M.Sc.
>Assistant Curator, Steinhart Aquarium
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