On Coral Transplantation..
What is coral transplantation?
According to the commonly used definition of ecological restoration is that of the Society for Ecological Restoration, which describes it as “the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed”
A recent definition of “restoration” for coral reef systems as “any active intervention that aims to assist the recovery of reef structure, function, and key reef species in the face of rising climate and anthropogenic pressures, therefore promoting reef resilience and the sustainable delivery of reef ecosystem services”
Does the operation address the reef resilience and the sustainable delivery of reef ecosystem services?
1- In case of sourcing via targeted fragmentation of already established corals which is many of the initiatives in the Red Sea, then NO!
Since Coral Gardening is asexual growth of harvested corals, this is worrying, given the core concept of ecological restoration that assisting natural recovery processes is the most reliable way to achieve recovery. And most the transplantation process relies on the Asexual growth of the fragmented corals in-situ (over the reef) or ex-situ (in a tub/tank or aquarium on land). This process as it may share in the growth of the coral visually, but not necessarily the strength in genetic variation or resilience especially if the harvested stocks are from affected coral communities and deteriorated reefs.
2- If the site has already established corals, the additional colonies may be increasing the long-established natural density in a non-sustainable way “Reef Rehabilitation Manual, Page 105”.
Researchers agreed that the survivorship ration of the transplanted corals is governed with the transplanted coral species and the local environmental conditions. ; Kotb et al 2003
3- The species A. variabilis and A. digitifera (45%) after 24 months, these species are highly sensitive to handling during transplantation on to one of the unsuitable parameters as sedimentation rate.
4- Out of a precautionary principle, non-specialized individuals would run schemes for “Coral Restoration/Gardening” by haphazardly fragmenting already viable corals and plant them in unstudied sites or just for the propaganda of “Restoring the Reefs”, thus self-interest.
1- International principles and standards for the practice of ecological restoration. Second edition. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/rec.13035
2- Survivorship and growth rates for some transplanted coral reef building species and their potential for coral reef rehabilitation in the Red Sea. https://ejabf.journals.ekb.eg/article_30291_3d340665227041fcb9ace592077745a0.pdf
3- Transplantation of corals as an approach to rehabilitate the degraded reefs in the Egyptian Red Sea. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/276175542_Transplantation_of_corals_as_an_approach_to_rehabilitate_the_degraded_reefs_in_the_Egyptian_Red_Sea