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FUNDEMAR in the Dominican Republic has successfully integrated a program to upscale the production of coral sexual recruits with an established wet lab and in-situ coral culture pools in May 2019 in collaboration with several international organizations, positioning FUNDEMAR as the only institution working with coral sexual reproduction techniques to enhance resilience of local corals in the country.

The story of how this became a reality goes back a few years. Since 2011, FUNDEMAR already had a robust coral gardening and fragment transplanting program in Bayahibe, Dominican Republic, creating alliances with local dive centers and resorts to assist in the management of our 8 Acropora cervicornis gardens holding more than 3 km of tissue. In 2015, Johanna Calle, a doctoral student from CINVESTAV in Mexico learned assisted fertilization and coral culturing techniques with Acropora palmata in Dr. Anastazia Banaszak’s lab, CORALIUM, in Puerto Morelos, Mexico, and, in collaboration with FUNDEMAR, came to Bayahibe to implement a pilot sexual reproduction program using these techniques on a small scale using our coral gardens. The project was a success and was repeated in 2016. Thanks to these efforts, FUNDEMAR staff had the opportunity to receive training on coral larval rearing techniques by participating in SECORE’s workshops in the CARMABI and CORALIUM labs, in Curaçao and Mexico respectively, with support from The Nature Conservancy, to further strengthen the program.

In 2017 and 2018, FUNDEMAR documented coral spawning events in Bayahibe, and registered the spawning of 7 coral species: Acropora cervicornis, Colpophyllia natans, Dendrogyra cylindrus, Diploria labyrinthiformis, Montastrea cavernosa, Orbicella annularis and O. faveolata. Using these data, we created a local spawning prediction calendar which we update every year.

In May 2019, in collaboration with several institutions from Mexico, Curaçao, Cuba, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Colombia, and Venezuela, the FUNDEMAR team trained, prepared and worked long hours to collect gametes, assist fertilization and reared larvae from 27 Diploria labyrinthiformis colonies during the spawning event on the 28th and 29th of May, and subsequently transplanted more than 650 substrates with settled coral recruits to the reef. All of this was possible thanks to the support of our funders The Nature Conservancy in the Caribbean, USAID, USFWS, German Embassy, and our allies SECORE International, CORALIUM, Dressel Divers and other partners and volunteers. SECORE staff members were onsite to provide training and guidance during spawning, as well as equipment such as the larval rearing pool and some substrates for larval settlement

 

FUNDEMAR (Bayahibe, Dominican Republic) is dedicated to promoting the sustainable use of coastal marine ecosystems and resources through research, education, and support for the development of conservation projects. Feature article written by FUNDEMAR. Featured photos submitted by FUNDEMAR. 

 

 


 

The Coral Restoration Consortium has been created as a coordinating body that seeks to disseminate best practices, foster technological innovation, and identify key research gaps in order to improve the efficiency with which coral reefs are restored in the Wider Caribbean, such that reef ecosystems can protect coastlines, foster fisheries, serve as the basis for many economies, and be enjoyed for their diversity by future generations. Click the links below to read the monthly newsletter.

 

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