ReefWatch Marine Conservation

Lesser-known Habitats Grant 2018

Project Name:

ReefWatch Marine Conservation

Project Brief:

This project seeks to rehabilitate coral reefs in the Andaman Islands using techniques of artificial reef creation, mineral accretion and also through coral nurseries, where fragments and coral spawn are grown in labs for transplanting into the wild. The Andaman Islands have been seeing an average water temperature of about 28 degrees celsius which is on the upper band of coral tolerance. This has resulted in extensive bleaching and drop in coral cover and along with a reduction in habitat for coral-associated species. Through this project, ReefWatch Marine Conservation hopes to set up a tried and tested protocol for rehabilitation and also train local youth in carrying it out independently.

Project objectives:
  • Creation and mainteneance of artificial reefs with mineral accretion systems.
  • Creation of coral nurseries to grow more resilient corals for transplantation.
  • Local capacity building for reef maintenance.
Highlights from field:
  • Two artificial structures and three mini structures have been designed, built and deployed. The two artificial structures are fully populated and work is ongoing on the mini structures.
  • Under the grant, ReefWatch has set-up an on-ground lab for coral growth and regeneration. They are using a micro fragmentation technique where fragments of coral are grown in tanks to increase growth rates of slow-growing coral species.
  • Continuous monitoring of the natural reef and the artificial reef has been carried out.
  • ReefWatch conducted programs for mainland school children to teach them about island ecology through outdoor classrooms. As a part of one of their activities, the children were informally taught about micro fragmentation and the process behind this particular aspect of the project.
  • Four local youth have been trained under the project or coral restoration and monitoring.
  • ReefWatch’s active recruitment and capacity building of local youth has further facilitated and expanded connections with communities across the Andaman Islands. This has also triggered requests and identification of additional youth to be part of the capacity-building efforts.