We are pleased to report that thousands of corals (approx. 2,500) are not just regrowing, but thriving in their current home. Coral ranging in age from a few weeks to a few months months populate the facility, with the effectiveness of Dr. Vaughan's Microfragmentation process in full effect. The oldest corals resulting from the initial regeneration process are 4 months old.
Four species of coral are currently growing in the incubator in Florida:
Microfragmentation is the process by which new coral are grown by breaking off small pieces from a healthy host. These broken coral regrow much more quickly than new coral grown via traditional a/sexual reproductive "budding."
The regrowth incubator was nestled nicely between a mangrove forest and intracoastal waterway just inland from the beaches of Summerland Key, Florida. We learned that the gravel ground covered a deep drainage ditch and was the most labour intensive part of the construction. The black fabric covering each row could be adjusted to allow more or less sunlight to help regulate conditions for the growing coral.
Water quality standards play a key role in coral regrowth. Dr. David Vaughan and his team even employ the help of snails to clean the tanks naturally. Growth is monitored daily and additional fragmentation continues to generate more new coral.
Coral regrowth is a complex scientific process... we knew that going in. Water quality standards must be strictly maintained, corals must be properly identified and documented by species, and changing weather conditions can pose challenges for regrowth efforts.
The incubator setup is not yet standardized which poses additional construction challenges, with many custom up-fit features being required to regulate sunlight and other extraneous factors.
One of the key focuses of our visit was how TCP can help close this gap by improving the efficiency of incubator build outs and the support of their operations beyond simply funding the projects. We left Florida optimistic about the next steps for The Coral Project.
Purchasing a bracelet helps support organizations like Plant a Million Corals and funds the growth of approximately one resilient coral.