Project Summary

Shallow Coral reefs across the Caribbean basin are seriously threatened, primarily due to the decimation of its central reef-building coral, the staghorn coral Acropora cervicornis. Before the 70s, this coral dominated vast areas of the shallower reefs across the region. However, afterward, populations of staghorn corals experienced unprecedented declines, mainly due to low water quality due to inland human activities, overfishing, diseases, and water warming-induced bleaching (loss of zooxanthellae). Consequently, over 97% of staghorn coral populations across the Caribbean have collapsed. The current scenario requires strategies directed at increasing the abundance of staghorn corals. In this sense, propagating the species through the transplantation of nursery-reared coral fragments is considered one of the most cost-effective and successful strategies.

Project Goal

These projects aimed to collect 450 staghorn corals fragments from naturally occurring populations across the eastern coast of Puerto Rico. We designed a coral farm to accomplish this goal by incorporating fish and invertebrate larval aggregating devices. The idea behind the design is to replicate the structural complexity of the coral reef in our farms so that the farms attract reef-associated organisms while nursing staghorn corals.