Our reef restoration program proposes active restoration as a complement to integrated management in order to nurture a healthy and biodiverse reef. The aim of the program is to restore several hectares of degraded reef by transplanting coral colonies reared in underwater incubation gardens or nurseries. This will require the transplantation of several thousands of coral colonies which will be cloned by fragmentation. The program will also be an important pedagogical opportunity for the environmental education of Mahahual’s community.
The coral restoration technique consists of the cloning and nursery rearing of coral colonies obtained from the reef. The nurseries, or coral gardens, will be built inside the reef’s lagoon, in their natural environment but protected from the waves and other stress factors. These gardens will float mid-water at a depth of approximately 6m. The coral fragments will be obtained by two methods; by collecting fragments that naturally detach from their parent colonies and by taking them directly from healthy colonies. Collected fragments will be transplanted into a nursery, where they will develop in a controlled environment. Weekly inspections will check for possible diseases and eliminate predators as well as competitors. After a year of development in nurseries, the colonies are transplanted into sites that need intervention. The systematic monitoring of the genetic lineages of the cloned colonies will be necessary to maximize the genetic diversity of transplanted colonies. The first phase of the project will last three years and a half, during which we plan to cultivate and transplant three generations of nursery corals.