Coral reefs produce much of the food for coastal people all around the tropics. Unfortunately other human activities have damaged the reefs. In SE Asia the impacts of blast fishing have been severe. Around the world, coral reefs have drastically declined due to coastal development, increased water temperatures and storm frequency, global climate change, disease, pollution, and overfishing. On Pom Pom Island, our reef check and Gcrmn surveys have shown less than 1% coral cover in the shallow areas. Neighbouring reefs of Pandanan or Kapikan which have protection by the presence of national park or frontier force personnel have nearly 100% coral cover.
After many years of protection, reefs that have been blasted by bomb fishing have not recovered. To help restore the reef, TRACC is growing corals at an in-water coral nursery to use in restoration activities. A variety of techniques are used, wet planting is the quickest if the nursery will not be disturbed. The disadvantage is the base block remains artificial looking for many years. For most situations, dry planting works well and looks more natural after a few months.
Hard & soft coral reproduces naturally through the process of fragmentation, so we collect small pieces of coral called fragments or nubbins from damaged parts of the reef. The frags are placed in a coral nursery. Once secured in the nursery, some hard coral species such as Acropora grow quickly – fragments can grow up to 15 cm per year. When the fragments have grown to about 30 cm, they can be fragmented again to create more fragments without needing to collect more from wild colonies.
Soft corals grow fast – the yellow species in the photo can cover a postit note (2x2inch or 5x5cm) sized area in a month. The white Pom Pom Xenia produce a new stalk every 6-8 weeks.
The reef restoration on Pom Pom island has finished area A with over 1000 coral fragments from 62 species spread over an area of 10 x 20m. This will be monitored for growth in 2012 but no additional fragments will be planted. The hard coral nursery has been started with 10 blocks for each of 20 species. We will expand the nursery and start area B with the first volunteers of 2012.
Part of the hard coral nursery
Thanks to all the volunteers who helped with coral planting in 2011.
More about coral planting.
Other Coral planting projects
Green Connection 2006-2010 Fauxrock planting click to download PDF