Corals in Our Nurseries
Staghorn and Elkhorn Corals
Staghorn and elkhorn corals naturally reproduce several different ways. One way they can grow and reproduce is through fragmentation. If a branch falls off on the reef and conditions are favorable, it can reattach to the rock and begin to grow a new colony.
In February, we began adding blade fire coral to our nurseries.
Before we can outplant, we plan to build up our nursery stock over the next year, which means we will continually ‘frag’ the pieces we already have and put in multiple trees of each unique strain. We look forward to adding it to the reefs along with more staghorn and elkhorn in 2017!
Blade Fire Coral
Blade fire coral also known as Millepora complanata, is one of the corals we are working with. They have been listed as “least concern” on the IUCN Red List, but there has been a visible decline along the Key’s reefs due to numerous bleaching years back to back.
We take advantage of this naturally occurring process, allowing us to
grow thousands of corals in our offshore underwater nurseries. After about 6-9 month the corals have reached a substantial size (about dinner plate size) and are “reef-ready”. We are then able to outplant them to the reef using a non-toxic, all-natural epoxy.
We have recently started working with boulder corals! Check back for updated information on this specific coral.
Ecological & Economic Significance
Staghorn and elkhorn corals are ecologically and economically important because they provide key ecosystem services. The coral reef is an essential nursery habitat for many organisms. It also acts as grounds for breeding, feeding, and spawning for many commercially important fish and invertebrates. In fact, over 25% of the ocean’s organisims need coral reefs to survive.
Healthy, hard corals protect the coastline and act as a buffer system when large storms hit. Their structures dissipate the incoming waves and protect the land from erosion, preventing property damage and protecting lives. Coral reefs also support fishing, boating, scuba diving, and other tourism, recreational, and commercial-related activities that generates billions of dollars per year worldwide.