Ocean Freedom is very excited to continue to be part of this unique programme.
We, and five other high standard GBR operators in Cairns and Port Douglas region were invited to take part in this project.
It follows a successful feasibility study completed by Dave Suggett and Dr Emma Camp of University of Technology Sydney (UTS) in partnership with John Edmonson. We joined with this great team, including Lorna Howlett (a Post Graduate student) – all of us equally passionate people on a project that “sits very well” in our philosophy of “nurturing” nature – not attempting to change it.
“A core objective of this program is to introduce coral planting into localised stewardship and adaption…… The Coral Nurture Program is a new approach for the Great Barrier Reef, initiated by a partnership between science and toursim. Our unique approach is not about “reef restoration” as such, rather long-term stewardship and adaptation at economically valuable reef locations , increasing readily available management tools beyond existing options to include boosting live coral cover by planting corals”
Visit the Coral Nurture Program site here: www.coralnurtureprogram.org
We follow a strict set of conditions set by Dave’s team and under strict permitting conditions of GBRMPA. The area is recorded and monitored regularly.
Coral fragments are “out-planted” (secured onto a natural coral substrate) in areas which have been affected by cyclone damage or a bleaching event and then grow in situ as it would following coral spawning and attaching to the substrate – except it is already a little older! The coral fragment, over some weeks, forms an attachment to the coral substrate and then secures its position in the ecosystem. Only coral from that particular reef site area is propagated and out-planted ensuring that we are just “filling” in the gaps that may have been caused by cyclone damage, rough wave action, or bleaching – essentially just giving nature a helping hand. By doing this, it is hoped that we may be able to give all visiting tourists more consistent reef experiences and that it will hopefully allow the reef to recover from these events in a more timely fashion by also having a “nursery” of coral fragments to outplant after such events.
They are collected in a couple of ways:
These “opportunity” fragments are then either put in the nursery to grow and act as a “source” of coral or directly taken to outplant on the various areas of the reef where coral coverage has been affected due to cyclone or post bleaching event. The coral branches are very cleverly secured to the natural reef substrate by use of a Coralclip (devised by John Edmondson) so no toxic glues or other foreign substances used.
“Nursery” frames are set at certain positions on the reef site (the positions of which is decide by certain criteria). “Opportunity” coral fragments are “collected” from that particular site and secured to the nursery frame, which then grow on the frame. The frame effectively becomes a “nursery” for coral growth or Coral Propagation – from which fragments can be tapped off and used for more out-planting.
Though, only being involved in this programme for a short time, we have already seen the potential for this simple and effective and “natural” technique.
From past experience following cyclones we had observed that the coral would survive and grow if turned over and placed somewhere secure, so it made complete sense when this new novel approach of securing smaller fragments onto the reef substrate, enabling a large amount of smaller fragments to be “secured”, in the available natural substrate and survive and thrive.
The beauty of this technique is that there is absolutely no interference with the natural substrate of the growing reef and there is no attempt to change the reef structure or species balance but just enhancing what is already there. The nursery frames are there purely to propagate coral from that specific site
So, come and learn about the Great Barrier Reef in a fun and informative way – do all or some of our activities – your choice. If you are interested make sure you ask our crew – they are always willing to inform!