Cuba sows coral in its seabed to repopulate its reefs

Cuba sows coral in its seabed to repopulate its reefsHAVANA, Nov 15 (EFE) Cuba is carrying out a project in Pinar del Río, in the Guanahacabibes National Park, aimed at sowing coral in the seabed and repopulating its valuable reefs, which is damaged by disease or by action of humans.

This initiative is led by experts from the National Aquarium, with the collaboration of US specialists and began to take shape in mid-2015, when the first two nurseries were installed with the species Acroporacervicornis, in critical danger.

After two years of monitoring, in August the first fragments of coral “cultivated” in artificial structures were planted on the seabed at the sites known as Laberinto and Cabezo de Marcel, among the most affected of Guanahacabibes by diving and navigation, the official Granma newspaper reports today.

Last February, marine biologists from the National Aquarium, together with specialists from the Florida Aquarium, the National Center for Protected Areas and divers from the María la Gorda International Diving Center, created 22 new nurseries in the park’s marine area.

In recent weeks these nurseries have been planted in depths of between six and ten meters, constructed from PVC pipes like those used in plumbing, joined in the form of branching.Cuba sows coral in its seabed to repopulate its reefs

In each nursery there are 60 fragments of Acroporacervicornis that can grow more than ten centimeters a year, which makes Guanahacabibes the first place in the country with a coral reef restoration center.

The “acroporacervicornis”, commonly known as deer horn, was widespread throughout the Caribbean and was one of the main reef trainers among the types of coral, explained biologist Dorka Cobián, one of the researchers leading the experience.

It was in the eighties when this coral began to be extinct because of diseases, pollution, overfishing, diving or the proliferation of invasive species, which affected fish, crustaceans and molluscs, which serves as a refuge.

“We extracted fragments of coral from 20 different sites of the park, with the aim of achieving greater genetic diversity once transplanted and that the colonies are resistant,” Cobián explained.

According to the expert, the application of this technique, which has already been used successfully in other countries such as the United States, Mexico or the Dominican Republic, can be very useful in the conservation of the species, and in the longer term, for the restoration of the reefs.