Updated: Nov 18, 2020
Coral Restoration Foundation™ (CRF™) is working with Florida Keys Electric Coop to rescue corals from structures scheduled for maintenance and removal.
These corals have been growing in very shallow water and need to acclimatize before being moved to a permanent home in the deeper water of the CRF™ Tavernier Coral Tree Nursery.
To help them adapt slowly to their new conditions, CRF™ has designed and built a new, shallow-water coral nursery.
These corals comprise species that are currently under-represented in nursery programs and will provide a boost to species and genetic diversity in restoration efforts in the Caribbean.
Coral Restoration Foundation™ has been working with the Florida Keys Electric Co-op (FKEC) to rescue corals growing in very shallow water on FKEC structures from North Key Largo to Marathon. These corals would normally be lost during maintenance and construction events. Traditionally, these rescued corals have been immediately relocated to near shore reef habitat, or moved into a deeper-water coral nursery.
However, moving from shallow to deeper water is incredibly stressful for corals and they often die soon after being relocated. But now, the CRF™ team has been working with FKEC and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) to improve the survivorship of rescued corals — a shallow-water coral nursery that will function as a stepping stone for these corals on their way to a new life. This new nursery provides a place for rescued corals to slowly acclimate to their new environment in deeper water and stabilize before being incorporated into a restoration program.
The new nursery is located in water too shallow to allow for the Coral Tree structures pioneered by CRF™. Instead, the CRF™ team has developed a new “table” nursery design. These tables have removable trays on which the corals will grow and acclimate for six months to a year. Once the corals are stable, the trays – along with their corals – will be detached and moved into the Tavernier Coral Tree Nursery; moving the corals while still on their trays reduces stress and improves survivorship.
“This is an invaluable opportunity to not only collect and relocate corals that would otherwise be lost, but to also test a new way to improve survivorship for corals that are being moved between different environments,” Jessica Levy, CRF™ Restoration Program Manager
This new nursery is in its infancy with just five tables, but will expand as the team moves down the Keys collecting and relocating corals from other structures that are scheduled for maintenance.
The corals that are being rescued are species that are seldom found in restoration programs. They represent a boost to genetic and species diversity in restoration efforts without impacting undisturbed wild colonies.
All activities were conducted under permits from FKNMS, FWC, and ACOE.