Improving outcomes of coral reef restoration through in situ larval rearing, settlement, and juvenile grow-out
St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
US Virgin Islands Division of Parks & Natural Resources
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Feather Leaf Inn
Propagation of coral via sexual reproduction, whereby gametes (eggs and sperm) are collected from multiple parent colonies during mass spawning events – then fertilized, larvae reared through settlement onto substrates and grown to juvenile stage – is now becoming more commonly applied in restoration contexts. However, these efforts remain labour-intensive yet produce generally low 1-year survival rates, partly because early juveniles are typically planted onto reefs immediately (when they are most vulnerable). Our project in St. Croix seeks to create and test a simple in-water system to incubate baby coral, beginning at the larval stage through to a juvenile size that can produce higher survival results when planted onto reefs. This effort is in collaboration with a local eco-resort with a key parallel objective to the research and development of training and building capacity in the community for coral restoration.