[Coral-List] Navy collaboration works to grow coral in Guam

Tracy Gill - NOAA Federal tracy.gill at noaa.gov
Tue Sep 26 10:12:32 EDT 2017

Navy collaboration works to grow coral in Guam



By Press Release


Posted on Sep 25 2017 <https://www.saipantribune.com/index.php/2017/09/25/>

Tag: Guam Navy-submerged
<https://www.saipantribune.com/index.php/tag/guam-navy-submerged/>, Secore
<https://www.saipantribune.com/index.php/tag/secore-international/>, test
<https://www.saipantribune.com/index.php/tag/test/>, Underwater World Guam

Pix not included:

Coral larvae-attracting coralline algae grows on cement tiles in saltwater
pools at the University of Guam marine laboratory as part of a project to
grow coral on the tiles. Experts hope the resulting coral can be used to
restore reefs that have been damaged. (NOAA FISHERIES)

PITI, Guam—Navy-submerged lands in Guam are being used as a test bed for a
project to assess the viability of a coral nursery which, if successful,
will promote the restoration of coral reefs.

Earlier this summer, a team consisting of marine biologists, scientists and
trained volunteers took part in this coral-growing project.

The volunteers were from the U.S. Navy, the National Oceanographic and
Atmospheric Administration, Secore International, the Guam Bureau of
Statistics and Plans Coastal Management Program, Underwater World Guam,
Aquarium of the Pacific, the University of Guam Marine Lab, and the
Department of Agriculture Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources.

“This type of collaboration is intended to raise awareness about the
importance of proactive coral management projects for reef restoration
efforts in the waters around Guam,” said Hilary Goodwin, a marine resource
specialist with the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas. “Due to
impacts on coral reefs such as climate change, coral bleaching, ocean
acidification, overfishing, soil runoff, coral reefs are in decline

The protection of coral reefs is extremely vital as they serve as fish
habitat, Goodwin added.

In mid-July, researchers took advantage of annual coral spawning in Guam to
collect gametes (reproductive cells) released by coral. The resulting
larvae, from fertilized gametes, were distributed in submerged pools with
racks containing a total of 2,000 pointed cement tiles. The intent was for
the larvae to then seek an area—on these tiles—to attach to and grow.

Six hundred of the tiles are being housed in the UOG marine lab and two
pools of 700 tiles each are in a coral nursery—a sufficiently deep,
sheltered, secure area in nearshore waters conducive to the growth of the
environment-sensitive larvae. As they mature, the coral will be planted on
the reef, probably all within the next year.

“We’re currently trying to decide whether we should test putting the corals
out on the reef at different times,” said NOAA fishery biologist Valerie
Brown. “In the past, they’ve held them for almost a year before putting
them out. We may try putting them out sooner. Since we have a lot of
corals, we can test how long they need; that’s one of the questions we
could ask.”

Although there are about 400 species of coral in Guam, the team focused on
Acropora surculosa, one of the branching corals commonly found along the
reef margin in Guam’s fringing and barrier reefs.

The researchers have conducted similar projects with the species, so they
have a sense of what to expect.

The UOG marine lab already had colonies of Acropora surculosa spawning in
the lab, which they used when they were unable to collect gametes in rough
ocean waters.

“[Acropora corals] are important reef-building corals,” Brown said. “These
are found right where the waves are breaking and in the shallow reef area
down below that.”
This project is the first of its kind for the Navy in Guam, and researchers
said demonstrating the success of this project is vital to securing
additional resources for future research and projects to protect Guam’s
reefs. *(USN*

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