In December 2014, two of my coworkers and I attended a Peace Corps sponsored seminar led by Dr. Filipina Sotto at the University of San Carlos- Mactan Island, Cebu. Dr. Sotto shared her methods for low-cost, low-risk coral gardening to assist in the natural recovery of damaged reefs. Coral gardening utilizes coral’s ability to reproduce a-sexually through a process called fragmentation. The gardening process involves collecting fragments of coral (typically broken by waves or destructive fishing practices) attaching them to a Coral Nursery Unit (CNU), and ultimately transplanting the healthy fragments to degraded sections of reef.
After the seminar we decided to pilot our own garden in Tan-Luc Marine Protected Area, on the southern tip of Guimaras- a region that was devastated by a massive oil spill in 2006. This past week we completed the first phase of the project, filling four CNUs with over 400 fragments!