More hotels are getting involved with ocean conservation. Some of the best luxury eco resorts are home to coral nurseries. Corals in many parts of the world are undergoing immense environmental stresses, such as rising water temperatures and pollution, that affect their health and growth. Thanks to many small groups of enthusiastic divers in the Pacific, some coral reefs are springing back to life.
Fiji, one of the small island groups in the middle of the Pacific, is a place where active divers are making a difference. The Coral Farming program started in Fiji under the name “The Coral Gardens-Living Reefs Initiative”. Fiji is also home to one of the world’s best eco resort namely the Jean-Michel Cousteau.
There are a number of initiatives currently underway at the Fijian resort, such as the giant clam project, which is working to restock and repopulate clams in the area and protects them from excessive harvesting.
Local corals that have broken due to natural causes are also collected and re-homed in a subaquatic farm — just one of the cool ways scientists are working to protect coral. While simple techniques are used, coral farming and coral gardening both require specialist training – corals are quite sensitive and quite easy to kill.
Mother corals are first established in coral farms by trimming sections off wild corals. After growing the mother corals for about two years, the corals reach the size of a large dinner plate. At that point, they are trimmed to produce lots of 2-5cm “seed corals”, which are in turn planted onto 4cm concrete disks or “coral cookies”. Each coral cookie is shaped like a button, with two small holes for threading fishing line through. These cookies are then woven onto heavy metal frames with sturdy lines, and placed on underwater tables made of iron bars.
The corals are left to grow in the coral farms for 6 to 14 months and if all goes well grow rapidly into second-generation corals. These are then either replanted into natural sites identified for restoration, or onto coral castles.
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