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Non-Acroporid Outplanting for Resilience and Recovery

Updated: Jun 7

CRF™ Senior Reef Restoration Coordinator Nikkie Cox working hard at outplanting boulder corals. Photo: Granger Eltringham for Coral Restoration Foundation™

Coral Restoration Foundation™ (CRF™) is the largest non-profit organization in the world dedicated to the active restoration of our planet’s coral reefs. CRF™ continues innovating in the field of coral restoration practice in its mission to aid in the survival of these crucial endangered species on an ecologically significant scale.  


In 2023, a combination of global climate change and an El Niño event prompted NOAA to announce the Fourth Global Coral Bleaching Event. The summer resulted in the most extreme marine heat wave ever recorded in Florida, breaking world records for sea surface temperature and resulting in the largest coral bleaching event Florida’s barrier reef has ever faced.  


Many reefs experienced 100% coral mortality¹, and NOAA reported that less than 22% of staghorn and less than 5% of elkhorn out planted by Florida reef restoration practitioners participating in NOAA’s ‘Mission Iconic Reefs’ survived the heat wave².  


Lindsey Smith, CRF™ Senior Reef Restoration Associate, collecting data on corals stored in land based nurseries during the bleaching event. Photo: Coral Restoration Foundation™

CRF™ responded rapidly to the warming waters, initiating a response plan and working to evacuate our coral gene banks and at-risk genotypes to on-land nurseries. Despite being prepared for scenarios such as this, the prolonged duration of the extreme heat resulted in the loss of 50% of our organization’s nursery stock. 


While CRF™ is rebuilding its acroporid stock, outplanting efforts have been adapted to enhance reef resiliency and recovery, directing renewed energy into the propagation and outplanting of a variety of non-acroporid corals growing in our nurseries.

Many of these non-branching species, including Orbicella annularis and Orbicella faveolata, are not only important and endangered reef building species, but have also been shown to be more resistant to bleaching and disease when compared to elkhorn and staghorn branching corals. This has prompted a strategy shift to include heightened focus on these alternative species.  


Our Spiral Tree design allows us to effectively propagate boulder coral species in our nursery. Photo: Coral Restoration Foundation™

Since January 2024, CRF™ staff and interns have increased nursery stock of non-acroporid corals by over 11,000 and plan to outplant 9,000 specimens back onto the reef by mid-June. In May alone, our restoration team outplanted 4,280 non-acroporid corals from nine difference species back onto Florida reefs.  


These corals have been propagated from corals that survived the previous summer’s bleaching in our nurseries, promoting hope that their outplanting will leverage both their demonstrated and natural resilience to heat stress in anticipation of future bleaching events. It is the intention of CRF™ that this approach will support the long-term viability and adaptability of restored reefs. 


Looking forward, our climate mitigation plans remain steadfast in the face of a changing climate and dedicated to the development of highly effective and accessible methods of coral restoration. For CRF™, the coral outplant efforts of this past May are a testament to our commitment to building resilience and ability to alter tactics in response to the observed outcomes of previous actions.


Outplanting boulder corals on to the reef this spring. Photos: Karley Feather for Coral Restoration Foundation™

Our pivot towards the more heat resilient non-acroporid corals while maintaining stock of our acroporids positions us well to support the long-term viability of restored reefs, which in turn can continue to provide habitat and resources for marine life in the Florida Keys.  


Our partnerships with other marine restoration, research, conservation, and governmental organizations continue to be essential to our success, and the support from our communities inspires our work on a daily basis. Together as a conservation community, we can make a significant impact on the health of our oceans today and into the future.  



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Unknown member
3 days ago

I guess that raising a marine creature will be very difficult and need to carefully study the method because it involves environmental changes. connections game


Unknown member
5 days ago

There are many beaches today where a large number of corals have died and this proves that climate change and environmental pollution are becoming much more serious, we need to protect these species. This coral is to make the undersea environment more balanced, I wordle today am happy to see that you are doing this work.


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Unknown member
Jun 07

Discovering strange creatures under the sea is truly amazing, I love playing a small world cup to explore my limits in the 3D soccer field.

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