Coral fragments, healthily encrusting over their cable ties …
… on a mini-frame housed in a marine aquarium (Kuda Huraa).
Coral Propagation – Monthly Progress
At Landaa during January, we transplanted 24 new coral frames and monitored a total of 397 existing frames (mainly at the Dive and Water Villas sites).
At Kuda Huraa, we transplanted 10 new coral frames and recycled 2 of our old frames with fresh coral fragments (mainly using Acropora digitifera and A. tenuis). We continue to mitigate against sand accumulation by relocating any affected frames, although we have suffered some coral mortality. We also removed 3 crown of thorns starfish (COTs) that had made their home at the Water Villas site and were feasting on our coral frames.
At the House Reef site, we have continued monitoring and mapping our frames, and we observed that frames relocated from the Blue Hole are growing very well.
Shifting sands can be a problem caused by seasonal currents, stormy weather or construction/dredging work.
Crown of thorns starfish (COTs) are deadly to corals.
Photographed on our coral frames at Kuda Huraa (January 2021)
Artificial Intelligence and Coral Identification
Read the full project history of our autonomous catamaran and AI coral identification project over at Reefscapers AI-4Corals.
We have developed an inhouse software program to visualise all the information generated by our Artificial Intelligence analysis. It will be used internally by our Coral biologists, but we also hope to expand the data that is presented online to our coral frame sponsors.
Features of our program:
- Run Analysis – updates the database with data from any new coral frame photographs.
- Display Results – shows ‘bounding boxes’ of the coral fragments for a specific frame, and the growth in overall coral volume on the frame.
- Statistics – generates charts on the whole restoration program. Currently we have four options:
- Survival rates: Compares data for Pocillopora and Acropora in two different geographical areas (or on custom sets of frames).
- Mortality by zone: coral mortality over time, to identify abnormal events (bleaching, or local disturbances).
- Growth rates: distribution by geographical area and by genus.
- Volume: evolution of live and dead coral volume on the frames.
Coral Plates in Aquarium One (plates KH01, KH02, KH05) and Aquarium Two (plates KH03, KH04)
All 5 coral plates in both aquaria are regularly cleaned to remove algae. There were a few mortalities, and the crabs continue to push the fragments out, but the plates remain healthy overall.
- KH01 – (recently replenished) – fragments of Acropora millepora just beginning to fuse. The fragments of Galaxea fascicularis that were added last month remain healthy and are starting to encrust.
- KH02 – (exclusively Galaxea fascicularis) – showing a little mortality, so we have rotated the plate several times to allow all fragments to receive more light.
- KH03 – thoroughly cleaned of algae. The calcified areas are growing and about to fuse. The fragments of Acropora valida remain healthy and continue to grow, although they haven’t yet calcified onto the plate.
- KH04 (replenished December) – also cleaned of algae. Only two original fragments remain (due to the loss from algal overgrowth) and of the 11 newly transplanted fragments, 4 have started to calcify onto the plate (photos, below).
- KH05 (exclusively Galaxea fascicularis) – 1 fragment died after bleaching, but the others have now regained a healthy colouration and continue to grow (2 fragments are encrusting).
Coral plate (KH01) showing fragments of Acropora millepora, fusing (left) and encrusting (right)