Rare corals planted back onto the reefs of Tobago

Organization

Environmental Research Institute Charlotteville (ERIC)

Coral reefs are among some of Tobago’s most diverse and endangered ecosystems, they attract tourists, have recreational benefits and medicinal properties. They also provide an important habitat for marine life, protect our coastline from intensive wave action and sustain livelihoods of communities and fishermen.

Unfortunately, pollution, overfishing, siltation, harvesting and climate change are severely threatening our coral reefs. Critically Endangered Elkhorn and Staghorn corals are especially important reef building corals and are a very rare sight in Tobago.

Coral fragments being planted back onto the reef.

In mid-2016, the Environmental Research Institute Charlotteville (ERIC) started a coral nursery garden, sponsored by the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB) and NH International, with small coral fragments from a local reef (Pirate’s Bay). Over the last two years staghorn and elkhorn corals have grown to a size that prepared them to be planted back onto the reef. The year 2018, has been dedicated as The International Year Of the Reef (IYOR), and ERIC took this as an opportunity to plant the first Elkhorn and Staghorn corals in Charlotteville.

On Saturday 7th July, ERIC conducted its very first Coral Out-Planting Initiative. The team of marine ecology experts and trained community-based field technicians took fragments of staghorn corals from the coral garden and secured them to new sites on the reef with favourable growing conditions.

All of the coral fragments survived the delicate procedure and are now fully integrated into their new environment. ERIC hopes that these new coral colonies will bring improved coral reef health to Charlotteville and assist in coastal protection and reef fish biodiversity.

Coral fragments being planted back onto the reef.

ERIC will continue its coral nursery garden and restoration programme which offers educational, conservation and tourism benefits as well as climate change resilience to the local community.

Find out more here.

ERIC is also part of the International Year of the Reef activities of Trinidad and Tobago, find out more here.