Cancun, Q.R. – Researchers at El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR) have set out to cultivate corals in captivity in an attempt to reconstruct the state’s reef system.
Approximately 1.5 million peso will be provided by the National Commission of Science and Technology (CONACYT) to fund the project which will begin August 28. The goal of the three-year project is to spawn gametes of coral colonies.
ECOSUR project leader, Julio Espinoza Avalos, said the goal is to reproduce new coral colonies using male and female gametes which would allow the restoration of reefs in southern Quintana Roo.
“It will be done in captivity at the aquarium Xcaret Park and also in the field at Xcalak Reef National Park with Orbicella annularis belonging to the Merulinidae family, one of the most abundant in Quintana Roo. Their structure allows other marine species like lobster and conch to inhibit in their environment.”
He adds that the coral reef system continues to decline and that “The causes are many, ranging from pollution, global warming and diseases that cause algae growth that affect corals, which in recent years has led to a decline of between 8 percent and 14 percent of the coral population throughout the Caribbean.”
He explained that the collection will take place in August with conical traps. The samples will be deposited in buckets for fertilization where they will be transported to an aquarium at Xcaret. They will then be placed in 12 separate incubators of embryo waiting phases.
Researchers from the National Reef Park of Xcalak, the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas, Xcaret and the Division of Sciences of the Univeristy of Quintana Roo will be involved in the coral restoration project.