Coral Nursery Reef Project FAQ’s 2018-07-12T18:00:31+00:00


Have questions? We have answers!

How does coral restoration work exactly?

First it is important to define what we mean by restoration. Our coral nursery project’s efforts are aimed at restoring, or preserving the original habitats and replacing lost habitats or destroyed populations, respectively. In other words, we are seeking to actively preserve and recover the populations of endangered A. cervicornis (Staghorn) and A. palmata (Elkhorn) through safe, non-invasive human manipulation on the local reefs of Utila, a famous destination for scuba diving and part of the meso-American barrier reef.

What is a coral nursery?

A coral nursery is a set of structures placed in carefully selected areas of the reef where coral fragments can be grown, and cleaned and monitored by marine biologists, researchers and scientists.

How does a coral nursery work?

Coral nurseries work by taking fragments of opportunity of the selected coral species, ensuring they are alive and healthy, then further breaking them down to encourage a faster growth spurt.

Coral Nursery Tree
Utila Coral Reef Fragments

Where do you take the corals from?

Both species of corals we have selected undergo a natural fragmentation process which aids in propagating the species. It is very common to find fragments laying on the reef, which oftentimes face increased competition and difficulties if left there. 

We select fragments from different areas of the reef so we can ensure we have a diverse genetic pool.

Do corals grow better on nurseries than the reef?

By placing these corals in an environment where we are able to reduce competition and keep them clean, the corals gain strength, and resources to grow faster and stronger.  PADI scuba certifications and training are also offered for scientists, researchers and conservationists to partake in this endeavor. 

How is competition removed?

We remove competition by cleaning the structures and corals, thus removing predators, invaders, and algae. In coral nurseries, the corals can focus on feeding and growing, which is why they have proven a successful restoration method in the Caribbean.

What happens next?

Within 6-9 months of being placed in the nursery, the fragments will have reached a size that will allow them to have a better chance of surviving on the reef. Locally these transplanted corals contribute to the health of the reefs around Utila and Honduras and generate scientific data for the local NGO’s, Government and researchers.

How do you know if the corals will survive?

Once we replant them on the reef, we will continuously visit and monitor them to track their progress as well as clean the corals of algae.  You can read more on training and research, courses, PADI scuba diving and specialty classes and educational opportunities in the educational section of this site.

Utila Coral Ecology Research Projects

What happens to the nursery?

The PVC structures and the initial fragments collected will remain on the trees at the Utila coral nursery. The trees are the temporary nursery where we tend to them, until large enough to be fragmented further, then the second generation is grown then planted back on the reef. The first generation act as a stock to keep fragmenting from so we don’t need to remove from the reef again. Acting as the initial stock we use to continue growing coral fragments. Regular maintenance will continue on these trees and fragments indefinitely, as we continue to gather scientific data and repopulate and improve the health of the reefs around Utila, Honduras.

marine biology ecology projects Utila