Please select your home edition
Edition
Highfield Boats - Sailing - LEADERBOARD

Restored corals are thriving three years after Hurricane Matthew

by NOAA Fisheries 18 Oct 2019 12:58 UTC
A restored elkhorn coral colony off the coast of Puerto Rico. © NOAA Fisheries

Hurricane Matthew swept a destructive path through the south Atlantic and Carribean. Immediately, staff from the NOAA Restoration Center set to work responding to a damaged coral reef off the coast of Puerto Rico. Three years later, monitoring of the restored reef has revealed healthy, thriving corals with survival rates at more than 90 percent.

As the storm passed south of Puerto Rico in October 2016, powerful waves—some larger than 20 feet—buffeted an otherwise healthy stand of endangered elkhorn coral. The waves damaged many of the corals, breaking them into thousands of pieces.

Alongside the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources and contractor Sea Ventures, our coral restoration team went to work. We identified areas of the reef that suffered major impacts and collected thousands of coral fragments that had broken off. We stabilized them by lodging them in crevices or cementing them to the hard bottom of the reef. In all, we transplanted 8,500 coral fragments to 10 different sites.

This September, our team checked up on the transplanted corals—with exciting results. More than 90 percent of the fragments we secured with cement have survived. Elkhorn corals are flourishing in a reef that, three years ago, was completely devoid of them. Once-small coral fragments have grown into healthy, nearly full-size colonies. Fish and other underwater animals have returned to the reef.

In fact, the restored corals are faring well enough to serve as a test site for additional restoration. In a technique known as "clipping and gardening," experts cut small fragments off the corals and replant them nearby. The donor corals quickly heal their cuts and start growing again. This technique could serve as a cost-effective way to expand the size of coral restoration projects, using significantly less time than traditional planting methods.

Related Articles

North Atlantic right whales classification updated
There are about 400 individuals remaining, and likely fewer than 100 breeding females The International Union for Conservation of Nature recently changed its Red List Category for North Atlantic right whales from Endangered to Critically Endangered. Posted on 12 Jul
What is nearshore habitat?
Restoration focuses on valuable shoreline habitat where juvenile fish grow There is an especially valuable environment in Puget Sound made up of the beaches, bluffs, inlets, and river deltas: the nearshore. Posted on 28 Jun
Returning rescued sea turtles to the wild
Learn about the operations that go into rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing protected sea turtles We work with organizations along the Atlantic coast to help rescue and rehabilitate protected animals such as sea turtles. A successful rescue takes months of work and coordination between many partners. Posted on 27 Jun
Twentymile river whale update
It lingered in the river for more than a week The gray whale that was first reported in Twentymile River near Girdwood, Alaska on Memorial Day has likely died. It had lingered in the river for more than a week before swimming back into Turnagain Arm. Posted on 27 Jun
Celebrating sea turtle conservation
Conserving and protecting sea turtles is a part of our core mission at NOAA Fisheries NOAA Fisheries is committed to the protection, conservation, and recovery of sea turtles. We conduct research to inform conservation management actions and we work closely with our partners to advance conservation and recovery of these amazing animals. Posted on 22 Jun
Large whale entanglements report confirmed in US
More than 100 large whale entanglements were confirmed nationally in 2018 Many large whale populations are increasing in the United States, but entanglements in fishing gear or marine debris are a growing threat to the continued welfare and recovery of these species. Posted on 20 Jun
Autonomous vehicles help scientists estimate fish
An innovative scientific approach to survey Alaska pollock this year Scientists are capitalizing on existing technological capabilities and partnerships to collect fisheries data. This will help fill the information gap resulting from the cancellation of FY20 ship-based surveys due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Posted on 5 Jun
Newly weaned seal pup needs community help
NOAA and partners are requesting beach goers and ocean users keep their distance A recently weaned female Hawaiian monk seal pup has been resting along the shoreline and swimming in the waters along O'ahu's Kaiwi Coastline. She has appeared near some busy beach areas and hauled out in areas with a lot of vehicle activity on the beach. Posted on 30 May
Researchers probe orca poop for microplastics
What are microplastics and why are researchers looking for them in whale feces? You might worry about your toddler chewing on a plastic toy with toxic chemicals. Some orca researchers are beginning to worry about whales ingesting a gut full of microplastics, and what that might mean for their health. Posted on 29 May
Busy Atlantic hurricane season is expected
Multiple climate factors indicate above-normal activity is most likely An above-normal 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is expected, according to forecasters with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. Posted on 24 May
Grapefruit Graphics 2019 - FooterHighfield Boats - Sailing - FOOTERGJW Direct - Yacht 2019 - Footer