Improving the health, growth, and survival of young corals

Project title: Interventions to improve the health, growth, and survival of larvae and settlers for sexual restoration of the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR)
Project lead: Rebecca Albright
Countries involved: USA, Honduras
Supporting institutions: California Academy of Sciences, Roatan Marine Park
Total budget: $1,459,454
Duration: 36 months

Declining coral abundance has led to lower rates of successful reproduction, which prevents reefs from producing new, genetically varied corals and exacerbates reef degradation. In early 2024 the project will construct a new laboratory in Roatán, Honduras, the only of its kind in Central America. They will grow corals in nurseries on the nearby reef on special platform substrates that can be brought back to land for monitoring, testing, and protection during extreme heat waves. The project will evaluate and apply different methods to maximise success rates: seawater buffering to aid the production of corals’ skeletons, providing amino acid to coral larva and inoculating corals with symbiotic algae during culturing, to boost growth and survival of young corals. They will also train local partners working on the Mesoamerican Reef tract to use the most effective, low-cost, low-tech solutions in their restoration efforts in this important region, which constitutes the second largest barrier reef system on Earth.