Coral reefs are some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, with thousands of species dependent on them for their survival. They have a number of functions: coastal protection; habitat for reef fish and many invertebrates; source of income from fishing, tourism, and products from the ocean; nutrient cycling; potential source for drug discovery.
The reefs have faced a huge decline the past few decades, due to various factors, including anthropogenic factors such as pollution and over-fishing. While many reef conservation researchers are focused on discovering the “why” behind coral bleaching, disease and death, still others are focused on reef restoration. One major technique of reef restoration is coral micro-fragmentation. This technique uses the natural phenomenon of reef regeneration from small coral fragments. It was discovered that very small fragments of corals have a speedy regeneration growth rate that was 25-40 times faster than other regeneration techniques.
This type of work has been carried out successfully at various places around the world, including India, at the Gulf of Kachchh and at the Andaman and Nicobar islands. Coral micro-fragmentation appears to be a high-potential tool for reef conservation and restoration of endangered coral species. We hope to replicate and standardize this in Goa, so that this can be scaled up for larger scale transplantation in Goa and the rest of India.
We have received the Lesser-known Habitats Grants 2019 from The Habitats Trust (INR 20 lakhs) for December 2019 to December 2020, which we have successfully completed by transplanting 192 pieces of coral on 4 beds which are being continuously being monitored every month. These will continue to be monitored and taken care of for several years to come before we replant them on carefully chosen permanent locations on the reef.