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Emergency Response to Massive Coral Bleaching

by Corals for Conservation
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Emergency Response to Massive Coral Bleaching
Emergency Response to Massive Coral Bleaching
Emergency Response to Massive Coral Bleaching
Emergency Response to Massive Coral Bleaching
Emergency Response to Massive Coral Bleaching
Emergency Response to Massive Coral Bleaching
Emergency Response to Massive Coral Bleaching
Emergency Response to Massive Coral Bleaching
Emergency Response to Massive Coral Bleaching
Volunteers do a lot of work but also have fun!
Volunteers do a lot of work but also have fun!

EXCITING NEWS! Our project has been selected as one of only six case study sites for coral reef restoration by the United Nations, with our project taking up five pages out of a 45-page globally significant UNEP document!  Our full Kiribati report has also been updated and selected for publication as a chapter in a book on coral reef restoration.

While the Global pandemic has changed so many things, here in Fiji and much of the South Pacific there is no community spread of the virus at all, and so we can move about as always.  However, with no air travel and all commercial flights cancelled, it is still impossible to travel to Kiribati, Tuvalu, and Samoa, and so follow up trips planned for our sites there have not been possible, but we continue to work with our local partner organizations via email.  In the mean time, we have focused on the Fiji sites, with especially intensive work in the Malolo sites from September. 

We have gone into the sites each month since then, with teams of ten volunteers for two-week rotations, supervised by our two professional coral gardeners, Sarah, Keleni, and myself.  The volunteers are mostly unemployed graduates from the marine studies program at the university, living at home with their parents due to a greatly retracted economy, now that tourism is closed down.  These young people are real gems. They have an excellent background, but are bored with the present situation at home, and thus thrilled and thankful to be out in the ocean again! 

Surprise from Mother Nature:  A String of Tropical Cyclones Cools the Waters & Averts Widespread Coral Bleaching.

We have focused on preparing the reefs and coral nurseries for a predicted mass coral bleaching and mass death event, that was expected to hit starting this month (February), in the heart of our southern hemisphere summer.  Water temperatures have reached 33C (>90F), at times in our bleaching resistant coral nurseries.  Howevre, in a dynamic turn of weather trends, four cyclones hit Fiji in sequence since November, brushing past our sites (no direct hits), and cooling off the waters, so that only a minor bleaching has emerged so far.

Coral Saving Strategy has Crown of Thorns Starfish Relinquishing Killer Hold on Reefs

Our primary strategy has been to remove the venomous, coral killing, Crown of Thorns starfish (COTS), which have infested parts of our reefs, with intense focus in our planned coral outplanting and restoration sites.  We can not replant corals unless and until these animals are under better control, otherwise we are just feeding the problem. 

After removing hundreds of COTS from four targeted reefs, it is finally becoming harder to find them, as their abundance is much lower.  After two more months of mop-up operations, we will be ready in May to commence with the out-planting of corals trimmed from the nurseries , when the waters begin to cool off again. The goal is to create sizable patches of bleaching resistant super corals on the reefs, corals that will grow into adult colonies and begin to spawn, sending their babies onto the wider reef system.  This plan will test the idea that these corals share their heat adapted super-algae with nearby corals and incoming coral larvae, helping them to also become bleaching resistant. Our prediction is that the bleaching resistant reef patches will increase in size and diversity over time, and that the downcurrent coral populations will become more resistant, as the resistant corals spawn and send their larvae and algae into the wider reef system.  

In these times of great heat stress, the corals should not be fragmented for planting, as that added stress can lead to their death.  As an alternative strategy, entire colonies can be moved, if kept in the same upright orientation. Therefore, we successfully collected more super coral candidates from the hot pocket reefs and we moved one entire coral nursery of over 80 large mother corals from an extreme hot pocket into cooler waters. 

Local-focused Partnerships with Tuvalu and Kiribati Youth for Environmental Restoration and Food Source Alternatives to Overfishing

The Tuvalu youth group that we work with has sent a wonderful report and photos showing their work removing tons of invasive seaweeds that have smothered the corals, using the sargassum seaweed as fertilizer in their sweet potato gardens.  Weeding of the invasive seaweeds from around the few remaining corals in the town area is creating clean bare rock, which will receive corals trimmed from the super coral nurseries. This coral planting can occur after the third removal is completed, ensuring that the seaweeds are killed out in the restoration patches before the coral work begins.

The Kiribati nursery corals continue to thrive under the care of our local partners, who have recently sent photos of the nursery.  The over-abundant parrotfish continue to suppress the coral growth in the nursery, normally a problem, but at this time the slower growth has helped ensure that the nursery is kept manageable, with the corals we trimmed last March regrowing slowly and not fighting with their neighbors.  The planned creation of two new nurseries in areas with fewer parrotfish is on hold for now.  The efforts we took in teaching alternate food sources in this import-dependent community: sweet potatoes, edible banana flowers and stems, wild greens, and edible seaweeds, has proven very useful, as imports have become harder to obtain, with a major slowdown in shipping and total stoppage of air freight due to the pandemic. 

Unfortunately, we have not been able to follow up with the work in our partnership site on Moorea, in French Polynesia, with the "Coral Gardeners" youth-driven NGO. Even with flights inward possible, a COVID epidemic has ravaged the islands, as they have continued to allow tourists in.  

Livelihood Workshops for Reef Dependent Communities, Seaweed and Giant Clam Farming, and Disaster Relief Shifts into High Gear with our Experienced Corals for Conservation Officer. 

Back in Fiji, a livelihoods workshop for reef dependent communities is going on right now at our Teitei Livelihoods Centre, and our Naidiri coral restoration site is well represented.  Our community officer Simione Koto is missing, as he is off to the north of Fiji, to Vanua Levu island, to assist with cyclone relief and channeling disaster aid sent to us through GlobalGiving.  He is also following up on prospects for new coral restoration sites there in the two communities we are assisting.  The government has almost no aid for the communities, only a week of food rations, and no material support whatsoever, as the tax base of the nation has collapsed due to the closure of the tourism industry.  We are distributing cyclone strapping, nails, and roofing screws to secure rafters, beams, and roofs, to many households, to strengthen what they manage to rebuild.  The elderly and single mothers with devastated houses have been identified across the communities and are initial targets for urgent relief.  With the shoring up housing, both the structures and the people who live in them will be able to survive in the next storm. 

The Fiji Ministry of Fisheries sent four of their officers into our Mamanuca site and they are working with us on the farming of commercially valuable and edible seaweeds in the ocean as a potential community livelihood, well as the farming of overfished and endangered giant clam species, for restoration of the important species back to the reefs.

Volunteer and Intern Opportunity in Covid-19 Free Fiji for Families, and Students!

For individuals and families who read this who would like to come serve in Fiji as self-supporting volunteers, student interns, or scientific researchers in our coral reef and community development sites, we certainly could use your help.  We recently met with Fiji Immigration and it is possible to bring people in through quarantine and on the weekly repatriation flight from LAX, as long as we get you a proper volunteer permit valid for one year.  Marine biology, agriculture, natural resources management, and community development graduates worldwide who are passionate about community prosperity and preserving the coral reef ecosystem may find such an internship an amazing opportunity.  You might reach out to your university to see if this would qualify for an individual study course.  Otherwise the experience will be enriching and will help prepare you for a career in your field.  Please send us an email if you are interested.

As always, we thank you for your support and your continued and sacrificial donations, none of this amazing progress would have been possibly without small donors like you.  For those planning on donating again, coming soon is a matching and bonus opportunity in March from GlobalGiving- the "Little by Little" campaign, and again in April for Earth Week bonuses.  

Vinaka vakalevu,

Austin

Tuvalu Invasive Seaweed Removal Project
Tuvalu Invasive Seaweed Removal Project
Kiribati Coral Nursery January, 2021
Kiribati Coral Nursery January, 2021
Giant Clam Babies Arrive from Fisheries!
Giant Clam Babies Arrive from Fisheries!
Seaweed Farming Trials Begin in the Fiji Sites!
Seaweed Farming Trials Begin in the Fiji Sites!
Crown of Thorns Starfish Removed from Nuku Reef
Crown of Thorns Starfish Removed from Nuku Reef
Volunteers get a great experience and education.
Volunteers get a great experience and education.

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Making coral fragment leis for out-planting
Making coral fragment leis for out-planting

In spite of a spreading pandemic, I was able to travel to Christmas Island Kiribati with our C4C board member Simi Koto in early March.  While I focused on the coral nurseries, Koto focused on land-based livelihoods and agricultural self sufficiency as we work with communities to increase prosperity through better managment of natural resources and nature, including proposed no-fishing areas to help restore the coral reefs.

The coral reefs of Christmas Atoll experienced extremely hot water and an associated mass coral bleaching event that lasted for 14 months in 2015-2016, and that killed 95% of all corals and >>99% of branching corals.  The reefs are now dominated by dead coral rock, and a toxic microalgae has covered the rocks, working its way into the food chain, so that most reef fish have now become too poisonous to eat.  This fish flesh toxin is called "ciguatera", and it can be deadly or debilitating.  I ate reef fish on the atoll only once back in November, and became extremely ill. Taratau Kirata, the head of Fisheries, our major partner on the island, providing assistance with boats etc, was hospitalized last year from severe ciguatera poisoning, as have increasing numbers on the island. Many people have learned to avoid the problem by eating milkfish and deep ocean fish like Tuna, which are safe, however, an entire island community is at risk, and food security has certainly been compromised.  The long-term solution to this problem is to work to get corals back as the dominant species on the coral reefs of Christmas Island, and this is our long-term goal, working in partnership with mother nature, the island communities, and government. 

While it is impossible to replant the whole reef, it is possible to help re-boot and enhance natural recovery processes.  I will attach a document that has our Pacific-wide strategy, for any who might want more scientific information.  The strategy works to create small patches of "super corals" by planting small second generation branches trimmed from the nursery,  Within two years the corals grow to adult size and will begin spawning to produce coral larvae, sending them out into the water.  The coral patches in theory also serve as a strong settlement signal to any incoming coral larvae, and it has been proven that they share their resistant micro algae with the newcomers, spreading their resistance to future bleaching events.  

Our blaching resistant "super corals" have grown big within the coral nursery and we are at the stage where we must trim the mother corals and use the resulting branches to replant patches of corals back onto the reef.  Indeed the corals are becoming crowded, and trimming them also helps avoid competition in the nursery.  Each of the small 3-10cm coral fragments that result from this trimming are woven into the strands of thin ropes to creat a lei of corals, and then the lei is nailed to the dead reef, where each coral fragment grows, self-attach, and flourish on the reef.  We have replanted one coral patch on the reef where the corals are now adult-sized, and additional new patches were replanted in March at two sites.  Parrotfish bites are the worse problem we are facing, and so we are focusing on outplanting to increase the corals around the nursery, so that the parrotfish will have more corals to chew on - and so that hopefully there will be relatively less damage to each coral colony.  In addition to five Fisheries staff, six youth volunteers joined us in the work, and so the sessions became local capacity building sessions, creating positive vision for the future.    

Thanks to GlobalGiving, I have been able to return to the island twice per year since 2016, for a total of nine trips of 1-3 weeks each, accomplishing quite a lot.  The airplane only comes once a week- or it did until the pandemic began.  We were on the very last plane to leave the island in mid March, and flights have not yet resumed.  Others who stayed behind are still waiting.  As Kiribati has not has a single case of COVID-19, and as Fiji has had no community spread of the virus for over four months, there is talk of re-opening flights, so we look forward to returning soon.  

On returning, we are planning to upscale the work, focusing on more shallow reef sites acessible from shore, and involving more youth from each of the four villages of the island in the coral work, building understanding of coral reefs, the impacts of climate change, and the importance of the work on Christmas Island, as these humble efforts are now part of the leading edge of combatting the extinction of coral reefs globally.

Thanks again for your support and interest in this vital work. 

Out-planted coral lei- note the parrotfish bites!
Out-planted coral lei- note the parrotfish bites!
Kiritimati Super Coral Nursery
Kiritimati Super Coral Nursery
Corals are trimmed by parrotfish and grow rounded
Corals are trimmed by parrotfish and grow rounded
Planting mother corals onto an A-frame
Planting mother corals onto an A-frame

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Sarah and Keleni and Friends with Super Corals
Sarah and Keleni and Friends with Super Corals

Virus Free Fiji--A Victory for Communities and the Corals

FINALLY we are able to get moving again.  With the COVID-19 virus now absent from Fiji, the shut down has at last been lifted. We are now back in our Fiji sites and working hard. These sites went through a bleaching and a hurricane during the lockdown, with no one to maintain them.  Fortunately, the nurseries did amazingly well; all five coral nurseries and reef restoration sites withstood this onslaught of Mother Nature, with relatively minor damage.  The coral nurseries now contain thousands of bleaching resistant “super corals”, which are trimmed periodically to produce seed fragments for use in replanting patches of coral reefs after major bleaching kills the corals.

Here's a fascinating Corals 101 Fact: When we made the five nurseries, we saw astounding numbers of baby corals appear in the coming months, which researchers now say is related to the coral larvae being attracted to the smell of corals, and so we apparently created a strong settlement signal with our nurseries!  So restoring the corals to a reef does not mean replanting the whole reef, but only to create a settlement signal with a few patches of concentrated corals.  

For these Mamanuca Island sites, Corals for Conservation has been in a partnership with Plantation Island Resort for five years now, and the reefs around the resort have over time become a model training site, with the resort assisting with transport to the island, boats for the coral work, budget accommodation, meals, and free training venues.  We have so far trained 38 Fijians to become professional coral gardeners, and two of these coral gardeners (Sarah and Merekelini), both University Marine Studies graduates, have worked as professional coral gardeners and guest marine educators at the resort for the past two years.  Unfortunately, these women were laid off without pay in March due to the temporary closing of the resort, as Fiji stopped all incoming flights and all tourism.  The resort was badly damaged by the cyclone, and all inter-island transport banned, so we were unable to do any coral related work.  Once the ban on transport was lifted in early May, the resort went into intense action to repair the damage, so we were not yet able to come back in.  When the major repairs were completed, the resort graciously invited me back, plus they brought the coral gardeners back on for two weeks of intensive coral work, which has just now been completed.  Amazing progress was made: 1,000 corals were moved to safer waters free from "killer algae" smothering. We are all exhausted and nursing coral cuts-- I even sustained  a bad toxic Crown of Thorns starfish poke to the finger. 

Even though the resort is closed and without income, Plantation Island Resort has nevertheless agreed to provide housing, meals, boats for the work, and bi-weekly transport to and from the main island for our coral gardeners, if C4C can pay these two hard working women their wages. These stewardship efforts are so essential for the progress of critical reef restoration and nursery sites.   We are writing up our results as a technical report and will be back soon, hopefully with a group of local trainees.   

Professional Coral Gardeners Key to Reef & Resort Partnerships

While every resort has gardeners for the land, our goal is that all reef using resorts will take on coral gardeners for the sea, to care for the natural resources and to help the coral reef survive into the future. The coral gardeners work to counter any negative impact that tourists might have, while educating the guests, and helping the coral reef adapt to the warming waters caused by climate change.  Our goal is for “Professional Coral Gardener” to become a certificate level profession and to create a hundred or more new jobs for bright young Pacific Islanders, so that pockets of coral reefs survive and thrive into the future under the care of loving and skilled hands. 

As part of this initiative, and parallel to the strategy with the resorts, we work with indigenous reef-owning communities, considering them as a major part of the solution.  We help by addressing poverty-driven overfishing of resources, and stimulating the restoration of fish and other marine resources, creating marine resource management plans, no fishing areas, and alternative livelihoods.  The chiefs are interested in working with the tourism industry and government to create a permanent marine park for conserving the area, and C4C is facilitating this process.    

Healthy coral reefs provide abundant fish, sandy beaches, and are a vital tourism resource.  The biggest threat to the survival of coral reefs is Global Warming, as the ocean is becoming hotter with each passing year.  Hot water causes the corals to become sick and to lose their colors- a process called bleaching.  However, some corals are resistant to this bleaching, and can tolerate the hotter water.  The reefs around Plantation Island Resort are very shallow, and have proven ideal for selecting hot water adapted, bleaching resistant  “super corals,” and our nurseries are filled with a diversity of these amazing corals. 

In partnership with the resort we have so far carried out three local workshops starting in 2016. Since 2019, we have run three international “Coral Gardening for Climate Change Adaptation” workshops, attracting over 75 people from as far away as Brazil, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Samoa, Hawaii, Guam, Australia, Israel, and New Zealand.  We are now going ahead and preparing to host our next series of Fiji-focused coral gardening training workshops at the resort, starting as early as July for Fiji. Then as flights reopen in the region, we plan to include regional trainees due to high demand for the program.  We are submitting proposals to raise additional funding for this work, and the resort is willing to lower their charges to  break-even cost, to help keep the resort functional.

During the Crisis Time an Opportunity to Re-invent Tourism Industry

This crisis is the best time to re-invent the tourism industry to become more sustainable and to better protect the environment. The tourism industry of the South Pacific greatly depends on the coral reefs, yet the old ways were damaging the environment.  Coral gardening, if it is done by properly trained professionals, and as part of a wider conservation plan (and of course using the super corals), can help the corals survive into the future, while providing meaningful livelihoods for Pacific islanders.

JULY 15TH IS GLOBAL GIVING'S NEXT BONUS DAY:  GIFTS FROM $250 TO $1,000 RECEIVE A 30% TO 50% MATCH.  

Every gift is precious at any time.  Your thoughtful donations continue to restore life to ensure a dynamic, thriving reef seascape--one of our planet's richest ecosystems.

Here's a link which includes a fun minute video from Northern Lau by Vatuvara Foundation:  Watch--it's just like being with us> https://www.vatuvara.org/blog/2020/6/8/coral-restoration-in-northern-lau-for-a-healthy-and-safe-ocean?fbclid=IwAR05rltlFqB0tkTyNAbd9BYvtwZJPSUBOUj__kxYlW5hCPWtZr1EZ3mVEHM  

Thanks for helping make this important work a reality,

Austin

Transporting corals to the new algae-free nursery
Transporting corals to the new algae-free nursery
Volunteer helpers: Beka, Jope, and Joni
Volunteer helpers: Beka, Jope, and Joni
Securing mother corals to the nursery table
Securing mother corals to the nursery table
Mother corals will be trimmed to restore reefs
Mother corals will be trimmed to restore reefs
Team Coral:  Keleni, Tevita, Austin, and Sarah
Team Coral: Keleni, Tevita, Austin, and Sarah
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Christmas Island Super Coral Nursery
Christmas Island Super Coral Nursery

A late happy 2020, and a big thank you- "Vinaka vakalevu" to all of our special supporters from around the world.

Greta Thunberg recently reminded the world at the Economic Summit in Switzerland that the climate-change clock is not only still ticking – rather it is speeding up!  She doesn't want percentages cut, nor 5-year or 20-year plans, she wants the carbon emissions to be net zero- NOW. 

But doesn’t this sound extreme?  Impractical perhaps, yes, but no, not extreme.  I share Greta's concerns because I am on the frontline in the collapse of this precious planet- I see the coral reefs bleaching and dying from water that has become so hot in our summer that it is uncomfortable to swim in.  Just this week our southern summer (Feb = Aug), bleaching has returned to our Fiji sites.  My dear friends, this global warming problem is very real- yet it is difficult for most people to get their heads around.  Carbon pollution is more of a threat than any pandemic, because it is hidden, slow moving, and long-term, and because it impacts all species on the planet, not just our own. 

While I have little hope that our leaders will do what needs to be done quickly enough to prevent even more grave consequences, I do have hope for coral reefs, because there is something that we can do to save them right now, even in the face of rapid climate change. Admittedly, what we do may seem miniscule when compared to the scale of coral reefs, but we are doing is proving a concept that can then be multiplied a thousand fold and that will help keep hundreds of coral species from going extinct in the coming decades. Already we are helping reefs maintain coral cover in the warming seas in six countries.  

Over the past four years since the project began, the coral rescue work has spread from Fiji to Kiribati, Tuvalu, French Polynesia, Vanuatu, and now to Samoa.  An amazing movement is beginning to form that you are part of, and so we thank you for joining in.  We all have a choice: sink into apathy and despair, or join together, dive in, arise and move forward with positive actions and hope!   While there are many positive and transformative movements that we can and should get involved with to help save the species and ecosystems of the planet, it is truly precious that we have become a positive and hopeful movement for saving the coral reefs, involving the youth and others in many sites. 

Each project site starts by assessing the situation by field scoping and in consultation with government, local fishers, and the reef owning community. Where possible, a comprehensive coral reef restoration and management plan is facilitated or supported, including no-fishing areas, a coral restoration plan, and COTS removal activities.  For reefs mostly killed by bleaching, the focus is to search for 'super corals', bleaching-resistant survivors, for sampling and propagation within coral nurseries. If the main reefs are still largely intact, the focus turns to searching shallow tide pools and closed lagoons for heat adapted corals. These 'hot pocket 'corals exist at the upper thermal tolerance limit for corals, and so they are often killed out in mass bleaching events, and so our collection of samples of each of these corals represents a coral rescue.  Once these 'super coral candidates' grow big in the gene bank nurseries, if a major bleaching has not hit during the growth period, we trim off small pieces for further testing in containers of hot water, to confirm their bleaching resistance.  Once a coral has been confirmed as a super coral, we then begin trimming off branches for outplanting, to restore damaged reefs and to create patches of hot-water adapted corals, to be ready for when mass bleaching kills most of the other corals. We do not advocate replanting entire reefs, but we rather we create diverse patches of adapted corals where natural reproduction can occur, and from where bleaching resistance can spread naturally throughout the coral reef system.

A major advancement in spreading the strategy happened last year, with two international training workshops completed, and another ten-day workshop will begin just next week.  Over 70 have been trained so far in advanced coral gardening for climate change adaptation, which is a major advancement:  30+ from Fiji, 5 from Papua New Guinea, 3 each from Samoa and Malaysia, and with one each from Vanuatu and New Caledonia, plus others from Australia, USA, New Zealand, Spain, Netherlands, and Israel.   

During the September workshop, participants dedicated our newest coral nursery to a special person- we named the nursery the "Greta Thunberg Coral Nursery"  A bouquet of super corals is now dedicated to a super person, at a super important time.

SPECIAL THANKS TO EVERYONE!

PS: Giving a special Valentines Day "THANK YOU!" to our special volunteer in Seattle, USA, Nancy Clark, who has tirelessly worked to help thank donors, edit reports, etc.  Nancy helped us double our contributions on GlobalGiving this year!    She wants me to remind you that the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day is this coming this April 22nd.  Donations made on that day will help us attain a high ranking as a Climate Action Fund participant, and donations on that day will receive a special match!  Good Thinking Nancy! 

The "Greta Thunberg" Nursery in Fiji, Sept 2019
The "Greta Thunberg" Nursery in Fiji, Sept 2019
Nadiri Community Site, Fiji Nov 2019
Nadiri Community Site, Fiji Nov 2019
Pink Pocillopora Super Corals, Kiritimati
Pink Pocillopora Super Corals, Kiritimati
PNG Trainees Conducting Their Own Training in PNG
PNG Trainees Conducting Their Own Training in PNG
Loloma levu to Nancy Clark, our special volunteer!
Loloma levu to Nancy Clark, our special volunteer!
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Searching for super corals among the dead corals
Searching for super corals among the dead corals

Unquestionably, the earth's temperature is rising.  Compilations worldwide are in for October, and the scientific consensus is that 2019 is on target for being the hottest year ever.  I'm preaching to the choir of dedicated ocean conservationists who care so much about corals, but let me share the story of the efforts in Samoa made possible in part by your continued help.

I just returned last night from Samoa to answer the summons--there's trouble on the reefs.  Coral is being stressed, bleached stark white and killed, by high water temperatures not seen before, and locals are scrambling to help save their national treasure of the reef ecosystem.  Food security and tourism livelihoods depend upon the success of our work.

On this trip I locally trained close to a hundred Samoans to identify and conserve the corals that can survive hot water without bleaching.  These corals were then planted into coral nurseries established within existing community established marine protected areas.  This work brought together the government fisheries division, FAO- the food and agriculture division of United Nations, and also the village fishers keen to get the project going on their reefs, as some or the reefs are mostly dead from elevated water temperatures earlier this year and in 2016.  Survey work was done to measure the extent of the damage, plus a source of bleaching resistant "super corals" was found in naturally occurring shallow hot pockets on the reef.  Four community no-fish zones were recommended for the work, and this is where I am today.

The three Samoan trainees from our September workshop in Fiji: Tavita, Warren, and Faletoese, who had paid their own airfare and who were supported by a partial scholarship from our GG funds, are central to one project site. They were excited and ready, and had already taught the Matautu community to prepare concrete "cookies" for planting super corals on.  They also had made ten "fish houses," hollow igloo-like structures out of stone and cement, on which to plant corals on in sandy areas. 

In total, seven new nurseries were created inside four no-fishing conservation areas.  By June, the corals will have doubled or tripled in size, and will be ready to be trimmed for planting fragments back to the reef, to create patches of hot-water resistant corals.  Within a few years under the loving care of the community coral gardeners, the reef will again thrive in its amazing natural colors and form. I am so proud of these young people, and applaud them for their dedication and their willingness to devote so much personal time and resources.

As the reefs are now heating up again in the Southern Summer, the plan is for me to return to Samoa in June for a strong push to replant some major dead reef areas we have now identified.,  The plan is to use hot pocket corals from a site so clogged with corals that they are crowding each other out. We will thin out competing branches, and remove corals that have grown so high that they are exposed at low tide, rescuing corals which would in time otherwise die.  

Emergency Response to Massive Coral Bleaching was started as a project on Global Giving four years ago.  Much has been done, not only in Fiji, but also in Kiribati, Moorea in French Polynesia, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and now Samoa. Trainees have also recently returned from our training to Papua New Guinea and to New Caledonia. In time every island nation across the Pacific where reefs exist will have some reefs being restored by local coral gardeners. I pioneered these techniques over thirty years ago, and with some recent refinements like fashioning garlands of coral micro-fragments, it still remains as the only answer to the bleaching emergency..

Giving Tuesday is being offered by Global Giving on December 3rd.  This year triple the amount of money is in the bonus fund waiting to be tapped by you!  There will be a percentage donation for every gift--the fairest way to award matching so that no organization is left out.  This year you're invited to donate either to our micro-project or directly to the main corals project.  

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Here's our next coral gardening workshop, to be held in February in Fiji just when the water is the warmest.  We'll be doing real time work in testing for super corals by stressing some to find the best ones to propagate for success!  Those of you in marine sciences or in communities with urgent need of help for your reefs, please respond and we'll get you more information.  Because of the generosity of so many via Global Giving, we will have accommodation, meal costs, and fees waived for indigenous islanders from Fiji and other developing nations.  Our site sponsor is Plantation Island Resort--without them this event would not happen.  Thanks to everyone!Image may contain: text
Excited youth join in with Fisheries staff
Excited youth join in with Fisheries staff
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
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Corals for Conservation

Location: Samabula - Fiji
Website:
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Project Leader:
Austin Bowden-Kerby
Samabula, Fiji
$69,174 raised of $75,000 goal
 
864 donations
$5,826 to go
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