USC Biology participates in coral restoration

Faculty members, staff, and students of the USC Department of Biology participated in coral restoration activities last April 18, 2022 in Cordova, Cebu. 

Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) Regional Coral Restoration Network project meeting at the Cebu White Sands Resort, Mactan (April 18, 2022). Local participants were from Cordova LGU, BFAR-7, representatives from Mactan hotels and resorts, and USC Department of Biology. 

Scientists and researchers from University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI), Marine Environment and Resources Foundation (MERF), Inc., and Southern Cross University, Australia transferred knowledge and skills of conducting reef restoration using larval enhancement.

This included checking the corals’ reproductive status (that is, if they are ready to release their tiny eggs and sperms, called gametes) to gamete collection using SCUBA (diving) by the participants.  In the coming months, further training will be done on gamete culture, reseeding, and post-settlement monitoring, baseline reef monitoring and post-reseeding monitoring at the identified degraded reefs around Cordova where the coral larvae will be reseeded to aid reef recovery.

Setting up inflatable rearing pontoons at the USC Marine Research Station. The pontoons will later be used for storing the collected coral gametes from the Gilutongan Marine Sanctuary, a marine protected area (MPA).

Coral reefs are vital marine ecosystems with diverse ecological, economic, and cultural values worth billions of dollars to national economies. The Philippines has the second largest coral reef area in Southeast Asia, covering 26,000 km2  (Wilkinson, 2008; Licuanan and Gomez, 2000).  The Philippines’ reefs are worth more than USD 2B annually because of the fishing, tourism, and storm protection they provide (Wilkinson, 2008).  However, the Philippine coral reefs have been on a decline since the first national assessment in the 1970s. We cannot risk further reef decline.

by Annie G. Diola, M.S., Department of Biology

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