PROYECTO CORALES • RAISING CORALS
Updated: Jan 18
“Juntos Somos” “Together, we are”
The project started 4 years ago as an initiative by INA (National Learning Institute) and SINAC (System of National Conservation Areas). Playa Samara became the first place to conjunctively unite efforts, with the community, local businesses, and the support of government institutions in order to recover the lost coral reefs.
What are corals?
According to the International Coral Reef Initiative, corals are invertebrate animals belonging to a large group of colorful and fascinating animals called Cnidaria. Other animals in this group that you may have seen in rock pools or on the beach include jellyfish and sea anemones. Although Cnidarians exhibit a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes, they all share the same distinguishing characteristics; a simple stomach with a single mouth opening surrounded by stinging tentacles. Each individual coral animal is called a polyp, and most live in groups of hundreds to thousands of genetically identical polyps that form a ‘colony’. The colony is formed by a process called budding, which is where the original polyp literally grows copies of itself.
What are coral reefs?
Hard corals extract abundant calcium from surrounding seawater and use this to create a hardened structure for protection and growth. Coral reefs are therefore created by millions of tiny polyps forming large carbonate structures, and are the basis of a framework and home for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of other species. Coral reefs are the largest living structure on the planet, and the only living structure to be visible from space.
As we currently know them, coral reefs have evolved on earth over the past 200 to 300 million years, and over this evolutionary history, perhaps the most unique feature of corals is the highly evolved form of symbiosis. Coral polyps have developed this relationship with tiny single-celled plants, known as zooxanthellae. Inside the tissues of each coral polyp live these microscopic, single-celled algae, sharing space, gas exchange and nutrients to survive.
This symbiosis between plant and animal also contributes to the brilliant colors of coral that can be seen while diving on a reef. It is the importance of light that drives corals to compete for space on the seafloor, and so constantly pushes the limits of their physiological tolerances in a competitive environment among so many different species. However, it also makes corals highly susceptible to environmental stress.
Why are they important?
We have lost around 85% of the corals worldwide, with 25% of its biodiversity. Around 50% of the CO2 is captured by the ocean, which then is processed by corals. Due to the loss of this important species the acidity of the water increases affecting other marine life. This biodiversity is considered key to finding new medicines for the 21st century. According to the International Coral Reef Initiative, many drugs are now being developed from coral reef animals and plants as possible cures for cancer, arthritis, human bacterial infections, viruses, and other diseases.
Coral reefs are some of the most diverse and valuable ecosystems on Earth. Coral reefs support more species per unit area than any other marine environment, including about 4,000 species of fish, 800 species of hard corals and hundreds of other species. Scientists estimate that there may be millions of undiscovered species of organisms living in and around reefs.
Coral reef structures also buffer shorelines against 97 percent of the energy from waves, storms, and floods, helping to prevent loss of life, property damage, and erosion. When reefs are damaged or destroyed, the absence of this natural barrier can increase the damage to coastal communities from normal wave action and violent storms.
A rectangular piece where the corals are stuck for the growing process. Everything is PVC. The cleaning process is thorough and difficult.
It is a structure where corals are hung.
They are ropes where they are hung. They are fishing lines that are easy to clean.
2) Restoration Sites
After 6-10 months, the fragments have grown into coral colonies and are ready for out planting back on the reef. Often outplant the corals in clusters, so they can fuse together to cover a large area quickly.
Monitoring the survivorship and growth of the corals, and whether they are supporting a diverse community of invertebrates and fish, is an essential part of successful restoration.
How can we help?
There are many ways to help! You can volunteer if you live nearby, INA is coordinating courses for volunteers in order to have more people onboard. Apart from donating time, you can help economically either directly or the GoFundme page: shorturl.at/lpDPZ. Through SINPE MOVIL +506 8671-7272. You can also scan the link below in order to adopt a coral! Every single step towards helping is important and greatly appreciated!
“CORAL REEFS AND ASSOCIATED ECOSYSTEMS ARE VITAL FOR MARINE BIODIVERSITY. THEY PLAY A CRUCIAL ROLE IN PROTECTING COASTAL AREAS AND ARE CRITICAL FOR THE HEALTH AND WELLBEING OF MANY SPECIES. SAVING CORAL REEFS IS ALSO ABOUT SAVING US AND FUTURE GENERATIONS.”
Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner (2019-2024)
Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, European Commission