Exploring Coral Reef Restoration in the Seychelles. Gathering material for a bigger story about environmental work in common tourist destinations. Nature Seychelles coral reef restoration project is one of the very happy stories.
The project is piloting the first-ever large scale active reef restoration in the region using ‘coral gardening’. Coral gardening involves collecting small pieces of healthy coral, raising them in underwater nurseries and then transplanting them to degraded sites.
50,000 fragments of coral have been raised in underwater nurseries and a further 15,000 transplanted in degraded areas. The long-term “success” of this mass transplantation is yet to be monitored but the project has already had a very positive knowledge-building impact: 30 scientific divers were involved and trained on reef restoration techniques. A tool kit is currently being put together to highlight the lessons learnt from the project and a Business Plan will be developed to ensure project sustainability.
Nature Seychelles is a leading environmental organisation in the Western Indian Ocean. It is the largest and oldest environment NGO in the Seychelles archipelago, where it is involved in environmental conservation and management.
Threats to Coral Reef
One of the greatest threats that reefs face, apart from overfishing of certain key species that are important to their function, is the impact of environmental conditions that are significantly beyond the norm. The best known of these environmental anomalies is El Niño, a cyclical climatic phenomenon that in some parts of the world can significantly increase seawater temperatures and light intensities. In 1998, the biggest El Niño ever recorded hit the western Indian Ocean, and seawater temperatures rose by 2° to 3°C for a period of a few months. In the Seychelles up to 90 percent of the coral reefs died as a result of this relatively small temperature rise.
Increases in temperature coupled with increases in light intensity cause coral bleaching. However, coral bleaching simply refers to loss of coral color and is not always associated with dramatic climatic events. Many species of coral go through seasonal changes in color, and such changes are due to normal processes they undergo to fine-tune their physiology to best suit environmental conditions.
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For more info see http://natureseychelles.org/what-we-do/coral-reef-restoration