BY IVAN LOH
|Success story: The coral conservation project at Mentagor showed a 100% survival rate and marine life taking up residence within the first three months since it started.|
AFTER sustaining massive damage to its coral reef conservation project at Mentagor Island, near Pangkor last year, Reef Check Malaysia (RCM) is planning to replace the plastic and PVC frames housing young corals with concrete frames.
RCM general manager Julian Hyde said the plastic and PVC frames were too light-weight and could not withstand the strong currents near the island, which resulted in the decimation of most of the young corals transplanted there since 2011.
“We plan to deploy about 20 concrete frames, each weighing about 120kg on the seabed near the island to increase its stability.
“We will then transplant young corals, using an underwater epoxy adhesive to secure them in holes that have been designed on the surface of the concrete frames,” he told The Star recently.
Hyde said RCM was also planning to experiment with transplanting some young coral directly onto the existing natural substrate or surface of rocks on the seabed, using the underwater epoxy adhesive to secure them.
The experiment, he said, would allow RCM to compare the survival and growth rates of corals on natural substrate and also to assess the best approach of transplanting the corals.
It was reported in July this year that about 85% of the corals on the plastic and PVC frames placed onto the seabed near Mentagor were decimated last year.
|Growing well: PVC plastic pipes used to hold the coral nubbins at Mentagor.|
RCM, a non-governmental organisation dedicated to conserve coral reefs, has since repopulated the corals there during every visit to the site to ensure the conservation project could continue to be carried out.
The conservation project was started in 2011, with the cooperation of local snorkelling guides to conserve coral reefs near Mentagor to save it from dying a “slow death”.
The project also saw the installation of several 3 sqm-sized plastic and PVC frames with young corals onto the seabed near the island, which have shown positive signs of growth.
In its “Reef Rehabilitation Experiments: A Review of Results & Lessons Learned” report published recently, Hyde said the initial survival rate of young corals recorded was about 70 to 75% after the first three months since the project began.
He also noted that a mini-ecosystem was established, with small fish and various invertebrates taking up residence among the young corals.
He said the corals’ survival rate deteriorated in the next three months as the project site was located too close to the seabed which was silty, resulting in some young corals being smothered by sand.
“The area where the corals were transplanted were also too deep in the water, resulting in lack of sunlight penetration which corals need to produce nutrients,” he said.
“Mitigation steps were taken and mortality rate was reduced but the refurbishment of a jetty close to the site caused some young corals to die,” he added.
Source: The Star