So why have we focused on a land based coral farm?
The plight of our coral reefs has been well known and well documented for decades now. Most of the practical efforts to conserve coral reefs so far, take the form of coral nurseries located in the sea.
However, the concept of a land based coral farm has also now been developed. This approach has some key advantages over the traditional in-sea nurseries, and it is these advantages that really grabbed our attention.
The farm we want to help build will take less than 3 months to build and become fully operational.All the equipment is readily available and the whole farm will cost around £25k to build. So a sizeable amount of money but not a huge amount.
The farm will need just 3 permanent members of staff to operate it and this is the main on-going cost. It will also need a small amount of electricity but we are hoping this will be generated by solar panels on-site. Apart from any equipment break-down / replacement costs, there are virtually no other on-going costs.
This coral farm can grow circa 10,000 corals a year. This is a huge amount and is only possible because the corals are grown in protected and managed tanks on the beach. They don’t have to worry about predators, diseases, storms or anything else……including sea temperatures that are too high to survive.
By controlling the water temperature in each tank, we can replicate the ideal sea temperature for the coral. In addition, we can easily and quickly clean the corals on a regular basis, to ensure they remain in tip-top shape. We can also use new techniques such as micro-fragmentation to further increase growth rates, which can make a dramatic difference.
A fair question and this was one of my biggest concerns. What if we go to all this effort and then the corals just die anyway? There will inevitably still be some corals that die once they are replanted into the local reefs. But we can take a lot of steps to increase their chances of survival. Right at the beginning of the process, we can select the healthiest corals and those that have demonstrated a high level of resistance to the increased sea temperatures. We can enable the corals to become acclimatised to higher sea temperatures from an early stage, by temporarily increasing the temperature of the water in the growing tanks. The hope will be that in maturity, these strongest and healthiest corals will spawn and create the next generation of healthier and stronger corals, that will have a greater chance of survival into the future.
So these are some of the reasons why we feel this is the project that allows us to make the biggest contribution to one of our greatest environmental problems.
And next time – it’s all about location, location, location.
If you can't wait for next weeks feature to drop, find out more information about the Seath Family and Coral Reef Conservation UK here.
GoEco program aims to educate conservationists in endangered coral restoration and more
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