They may not be “sexy”, but the long-spines sea urchin, Diadema antillarum, is one of the most important species on coral reefs. As grazers, they keep seaweed growth in check and allow coral larvae to settle and grow. This increases reef resilience and allows reefs to recover after corals die off from natural or human impacts. However, Diadema were nearly wiped out from the entire Caribbean region in 1983 and in many places, including The Bahamas, their populations have not recovered.
We are currently conducting various experiments to help populations recover on reefs. This includes experiments moving Diadema from non-reef areas where small pockets of recovery are occurring to reef areas. We are also partnering with organizations conducting assessments of larval supply, and raising Diadema in lab settings for eventual release onto reefs. Through these efforts, we hope to re-establish breeding populations of Diadema in key areas that can then replenish surrounding areas with larvae.
- Florida Aquarium
- ISER Caribe