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Sea of Change Foundation Backs Curaçao Coral Nursery for Reef Renewal

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Yearly, the Sea of Change Foundation supports innovative conservation projects around the world, including past and present projects focusing on coral reef restoration and resilience. Now, in support of Reef Renewal’s coral restoration efforts in the Caribbean, the Foundation is pleased to have helped support the creation of a new boulder coral nursery in the waters of Curaçao.

The project was hosted by Ocean Encounters on their house reef at the Stella Maris dive site, Mambo Beach, Curaçao. Now, the project is sharing their early successes. In January 2024, after receiving a much-needed shipment of coral nursery supplies and equipment, the nursery construction was completed in consultation with coral restoration innovator and expert, Ken Nedimyer. The completed nursery includes twelve genotypes of globed star coral (Orbicella annularis), mountainous star coral (Orbicella faveolata), and great star coral (Montastrea cavernosa) comprised of multiple fragments of each genotype. The team also installed 12 genotypes of pillar coral (Dendrogyra cylindrus) to serve as a reserve to help prevent their local extinction). In total, the new nursery was stocked with 1,100 coral fragments. With the main goal of the project complete, the establishment of a functioning boulder coral nursery, moving forward the team will reserve some coral fragments as backup broodstock for propagation via sexual reproduction in addition to fragmentation and growth. Additionally, they will expand the genetic diversity in the new nursery focusing on disease-resistant corals.

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Why is this important? Across the Caribbean boulder corals are subject to not only rises in ocean temperatures with subsequent bleaching but also the spread of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD, often referred to as “skittle-dee”). Specifically, the coral reefs of Curaçao are still recovering from the impacts associated with the 2023 Caribbean marine heatwave so identifying genotypes that may be less heat sensitive and may recover more quickly will be key to all future reef restoration efforts. Additionally, SCTLD first arrived near Curaçao’s Double Reef in Spring 2023 with significant mortality. However, this new nursery project with its emphasis on potentially disease resistant genotypes gives the local community and divers a head start in the fight to save their reefs. “We are grateful to all our partners and the Sea of Change Foundation for their support in creating this important new coral nursery,” said Tripp Funderburk, Reef Renewal Curacao’s Project Manager. “We are committed to supporting the vital work of restoring coral reefs so future generations of divers can also enjoy them,” said Samantha Whitcraft, Executive Director of the Foundation. “Indeed, at the Sea of Change Foundation 100% of the funds we raise go to conservation projects that align with our on-going goal to create positive change,” concluded Wayne Brown, CEO of Aggressor AdventuresTM and Chairman of the Foundation’s Board.

About the Sea of Change Foundation: The Sea of Change Foundation funds and initiates conservation and research that directly impacts the natural world we all love to enjoy and explore. Their mission is to create positive change with 100% of funds raised supporting conservation, directly. Learn more here.

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About Reef Renewal Curaçao: Their mission is to protect and restore coral reefs in Curaçao. They seek to train, engage, and inspire the local and international community through volunteering, educational events, and outreach. They are working to develop new and innovative ways to restore reefs with the support of research collaborators and then sharing these methods with restoration projects worldwide with the aim to demonstrate that through combined efforts, there is still hope for coral reefs. Learn more here.

Source: Dive Newswire



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