In mid-2016, the Environmental Research Institute Charlotteville (ERIC) started a coral nursery with small coral seedlings from Pirate’s Bay. Over the last two years, the institute was able to grow Staghorn and Elkhorn corals to a size for them to be planted on prime locations in the Bay.
With this year 2018, dedicated as The International Year of the Reef (IYOR), ERIC has taken the opportunity to plant the first Elkhorn and Staghorn corals in Charlotteville.
On July 7, ERIC conducted its very first Coral Out-Planting Initiative. ERIC’s team of marine ecology experts and trained community-based field technicians started off by harvesting the Staghorn Corals from the Coral Garden which was originally sponsored by the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB) and NH International. Thereafter, the corals were placed at new sites with favourable growing conditions. All corals survived the delicate procedure and are now fully integrated into their new and final environment.
ERIC hopes that these new coral colonies will bring improved coral reef health to Charlotteville and assist in coastal protection and reef fish biodiversity.
Meanwhile ERIC is continuing with its Coral Nursey Garden and Restoration Programme which offers educational, conservation and tourism benefits as well as climate change resilience to the local community.
Tobago’s coral reefs are among its most diverse and endangered ecosystems. The island’s reefs provide services that range from tourism attractions to recreational benefits and medicinal properties. Coral reefs are important as they provide a habitat for marine life especially juveniles, protect coastlines from wave erosion and storms and sustain the livelihoods of communities and fishermen.
Unfortunately, pollution, overfishing, siltation, harvesting and climate change are severely threatening the coral reefs. Critically endangered Elkhorn and Staghorn corals are especially important reef builders and are a rare sight in Tobago.