Coral Restoration Program success
The program has many facets related to the coral nursery and outplant site, with the mission of restoring Acropora corals to their previous levels of biodiversity and coral cover on the reefs surrounding Roatan. Within the coral nursery, this includes cleaning the trees, performing basic structure maintenance, repairing any damage to the trees caused by storms and surge, and maintaining genetic integrity within the trees. Beyond the nursery, this includes outplanting coral fragments and gathering data related to genotype resistance to disease, bleaching and predators in order to inform future program decisions. The intention is that once the outplanted corals reach sexual maturity in 2-3 years, they will begin spawning and naturally repopulating the reef.
Much of this work is done by Coral Restoration Course students under the guidance of trained coral instructors, many of whom go on to volunteer their time to continue to help. Utilizing our newly acquired dive boat, the RMP is also taking groups of these volunteer divers out at least two times a month to clean the nursery trees and monitor outplanted corals.
As of December 2020, The Roatan Marine Park has secured funding through the Swiss Development Cooperation for the installation of 10 new coral trees that will be added to the Coral Nursery at Seaquest Deep over the next few months. The RMP plans to scout the reefs to identify and collect fragments from healthy Acropora coral colonies to fill these new trees. Once installed and filled with new coral genotypes, the nursery will be home to 2,400 coral fragments across 40 Acropora genotypes, providing new young coral fragments to continue outplanting on the reefs around Roatan.
With the growth of the program, the RMP will be engaging any interested dive shops on Roatan to become Official RMP Coral Restoration Dive Shops and to get their instructors and guests involved. To learn more, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Roatan Marine Park Coral Restoration Project launched in early 2019 with the installation of 20 coral trees at the Seaquest Deep dive site nursery, with the support of the MAR Fund and the help of various local dive shops, including Roatan Divers, Coconut Tree, Sun Divers, Eco Divers and Mayan Princess). As of April 2020, this project has been run by the RMP with strong support from the team at Roatan Divers. Over this time, the coral fragments in the nursery have grown tremendously, and over 300 coral fragments have been outplanted at Chief’s Quarters, the official outplant dive site.