Farming corals? Yes – you can help us in our mission of Conserving Biodiversity in Mauritius by restoring coral reefs with farmed corals.
Why is reef restoration needed?
Alarming reports by the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) highlights that due to higher seas and weakened coral ecosystems, beaches in Mauritius have shrunk by as much as 20 meters over the last few decades. Reef restoration projects are underway through establishing coral farming and nursery facilities to actively restore degraded reefs. The project will improve understanding on how to use coral reef restoration as a tool for climate change adaptation, provide models for sustainable management of reef ecosystems, and build capacity for long-term restoration and management of these important habitats. Mauritius has been losing its live coral at an alarming rate over the past few decades, with up to 70% loss of live coral cover documented between 1997 and 2007. Causes of this are climate change, pollution and other environmental impacts.
Why are coral reefs so important?
Coral reefs contain some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. They protect coastlines from the damaging effects of wave action and tropical storms and provide habitats and shelter for many marine organisms. Coral reefs, thanks to their diversity, provide millions of people with food, medicine and revenue from fishing and tourism.
How will you help as a volunteer?
Our volunteers in Mauritius will join our marine conservation partners, Eco-Sud in efforts to farm corals for coral reef restoration. We aim to rehabilitate the coral reef ecosystem of the Grand Port Lagoon by increasing the percentage of live corals. A traditional coral farm is very much like an underwater garden, with row after row of corals growing in aquatic nurseries, under sunlight and with a constant flow of seawater. Resembling the way you line your crops in a field, underwater coral farms are built in rows using “tables” made from rope or solid material and strategically placing coral reef fragments on these structures. Once the coral fragments reach a certain size after months of care, they are transplanted to degraded sites in order to restore the ecosystem. Depending on the stage of the coral farm at the time you volunteer, you may find yourself assisting with:
- Construction of coral farming structures – these are what the coral fragments are attached to so that they can grow in the ideal conditions of the selected site in the lagoon.
- Cleaning of coral farming structures – it is important that the structures are cleaned of any algae, debris and other growth so that the corals can grow. Cleaning is usually done while snorkelling, brushing the structures between the corals with a hard brush to get them clean.
- Collecting coral fragments from the ocean to “plant” on the coral farming structures
- Attaching the coral fragments to the structures.
- Relocating corals of the right size to natural coral reefs, as part of the natural reef rehabilitation efforts.
How to join this project:
You’ll learn about all the other conservation projects you’ll participate in too, from reforestation on land, monitoring various wildlife species, carrying our biodiversity surveys, turtle monitoring and much more