In Bonaire, A Major Step for Coral Reef Restoration

bonaire reef

Bonaire was the Caribbean pioneer for coral reef restoration. And now the island is again at the forefront of the movement to plant new reefs.

For the first time in history, three species of boulder coral have been outplanted back to Bonaire’s reefs: lobed star coral, mountainous star coral and great star coral. 

In late 2022, Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire began outplanting boulder coral fragments that were propagated via fragmentation almost two years prior and reared in nurseries. 

“Outplanting these boulder coral fragments for the first time was a critical step for us, one that was necessary to fine-tune our restoration techniques and establish proper operating protocols,” said Francesca Virdis, Chief Operating Officer of RRFB. “From now on, our focus is scaling up their production to make sure that, with the help of our incredible community of dedicated volunteers, thousands of corals will be outplanted back to our reefs every year.”

All three species of boulder coral, two of which are endangered, are key building blocks of the marine ecosystem and will bolster the resilience of Bonaire’s reefs for years to come.

At their inception in 2012, RRFB initially focused on two species of branching coral: staghorn coral and elkhorn coral. 

The foundation has since expanded their restoration efforts to more species, first through their larval propagation program and now fragmentation technique, as well. 
It is crucial to maximize the number species that benefit from restoration to ensure that future reefs are as genetically diverse and resilient as possible.

Reef Renewal Bonaire will continue to grow and propagate boulder corals in nurseries and outplant them back to the reef.

The efforts guarantee that these coral species, staples of Bonaire’s marine ecosystem, will continue to thrive amidst growing pressures.

The boulder coral project is important not only for the preservation of key species, but also for ensuring the resilience of Bonaire’s reefs in the face of growing local and global threats. 

By expanding the quantity and species of coral they outplant, the Foundation is introducing much needed diversity to degraded reef areas, allowing them to better withstand today’s ever-changing environment and the uncertain conditions of the future.

For more, visit Reef Renewal Bonaire.

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