Restoring the Reefs of Curaçao
"Grooved Brain Coral", a species of Caribbean stony coral, is one of major building blocks of the coral reefs on Curaçao. This species (Diploria labyrinthiformis) has been struggling to reproduce at the rate it used to due to reef degradation and climate change.
Recently, the SEA LIFE Trust funded a conservation trip to send 10 marine biologists from SEA LIFE and the Florida Aquarium to Curaçao during coral spawning season to help!
While diving on the reefs, the team would keep their eyes peeled for four-eyed butterflyfish to follow around. These fish love to feast on brain coral spawn, so they are great indicators for when individual corals are about to release their egg-sperm bundles!
The team would then capture some of this spawn using special nets with collection tubes attached. Then, they brought the spawn-filled tubes to a lab to allow reproduction processes to continue, eventually offering the free-swimming baby corals "tetrapod" plates (donated by our friends at SECORE) to permanently settle on. Allowing this process to happen in a controlled lab setting gave the baby corals a much better chance at survival.
In total, the team outplanted 43,000 juvenile Grooved Brain Corals onto the degraded reefs, which will provide future generations a better chance at seeing a healthy, thriving coral reef!