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CRF™ Supporting Coral Restoration in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

Building on a legacy of commitment to coral reef ecosystems around the world, and thanks to generous funding from the Biden-Harris Administration's Climate-Ready Coasts Initiative, Coral Restoration Foundation™ (CRF™) is now actively supporting coral restoration efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

At the heart of these expanded operations lies the spirit of collaboration and shared expertise, aiming not just for restoration of these critical ecosystems, but also for the protection of the coastal communities that rely on them.

Puerto Rico: Expanding Capacity

In Puerto Rico we are now working in collaboration with the Institute for Socio-Ecological Research and Sea Ventures Marine Response Unit. Here, our focus is on supporting the expansion of in-situ nursery production, with the aim of propagating 1,000 pillar corals and outplanting 9,000 elkhorn across various locations, including Cayo Largo, Palominos, and Los Corchos. These locations are all within NOAA’s Caribbean Habitat Focus Area. In tandem, we will be supporting a multi-species genetic sequencing initiative, aiming to sample around 30 genets per species from a variety of corals housed in ex-situ facilities. This sequencing project, which includes an additional elkhorn sequencing effort, is geared towards enhancing restoration efficacy for both Puerto Rico and the USVI.

September 2023 saw CRF™ begin photomosaic training with Sea Ventures, and, in one week, helped expand their local teams’ monitoring capacity from an average of 100m² to a staggering 13,200m².

The US Virgin Islands: Collaboration and Innovation

In the US Virgin Islands, our efforts are in support of the recently released USVI coral restoration plan. We are working off St. Thomas and St. Croix, aiming to return around 10,000 corals of various species over the next few years. At Coki Beach, St. Thomas, we are collaborating with Coral World Ocean and Reef Initiative, helping to lay the groundwork for in-situ nursery propagation and subsequent outplanting of 2,300-3,000 coral colonies. Meanwhile, at Long Reef, St. Croix, CRF™ expertise is being leveraged to help establish nurseries, collect corals, and ultimately outplant approximately 7,000 corals spanning various species.

In September our team, led by CRF™ Director of Restoration Strategy, Jessica Levy, went to St Croix and worked with local resource managers to survey nearly two miles of Long Reef, capturing approximately 4,439m² in photomosaics. Teams also identified four good locations for future in-situ (ocean based) Coral Tree Nurseries.

Through these initiatives, CRF™ continues to realise its commitment to a world in which coral reefs persist, providing hope for marine life and coastal communities.

For more information on these projects, click here, and follow REEFocus and our social media accounts for updates!

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