WHAT WE DO

Reef Rescue Network

Restoring Life, Growing Opportunity

History

The Reef Rescue Network (RRN) was established in 2017 by the Perry Institute for Marine Science (PIMS) as a network of non-profit organizations and for-profit businesses committed to improving the condition of coral reefs by restoring populations of corals and other species that will build coral reef resilience. These actions will result in meaningful coral restoration across large spatial scales to make substantial improvements to coral reef health and contribute to our knowledge of coral biology, ecology, reef ecosystem function and how we can improve their condition.  The RRN harnesses both the scientific technical expertise of PIMS to provide scientific guidance and a framework for conducting experimental coral restoration and reef rehabilitation and a network of conservation organizations, environmental education institutions and dive operators who are committed to improving coral populations and the health of their local coral reefs. Thus, the RRN is able to conduct coral restoration using best practices based on current research at an unprecedented spatial scale. As of 2019, in just three short years the RRN has grown to include nearly 30 coral restoration sites in partnership with 25 local partners from 9 islands within The Bahamas as well as Aruba and St. Lucia. Through this partnership between coral reef scientist’s local conservation and education organizations and private businesses in the dive industry, the RRN is making significant advances in restoring coral and building reef resilience.

Goals

  • Improving the condition of local reefs to prevent local extirpation of reef building corals and support biodiversity and provide ecosystem services to local communities.
  • Increasing genetic diversity of key coral species on reefs to improve natural recovery of these species and facilitate adaptation to a changing ocean environment.
  • Gaining new insights into coral restoration and reef resilience through targeted research conducted across spatial scales that encompass a wide range of natural variability in biological and environmental conditions as well as human threats.
  • Training recreational divers to become citizen scientists, participating in coral conservation and restoration activities, specifically through our PADI Reef Rescue Diver Course.
  • Building public support for coral reef protection and restoration.

Who We Are

Coordinator

Hayley-Jo Carr is a PADI Course Director & marine conservationist who has taught a wide range of programs in a variety of countries.

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Executive Director

Dr. Dahlgren is a marine ecologist who studies a wide rage of topics related to tropical marine ecosystems.

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Senior Scientist

Dr. Valeria Pizarro is a biologist who studies the biology and ecology of corals and coral reefs. She started studying coral reefs in her native Colombia…

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What We Do

As coral reefs are degrading, its ecosystems services are diminishing, threatening the marine life that depends on them and the human populations living along the tropical coasts. To reverse coral reef loss several strategies have been developed by scientists, conservation practitioners and managers, including the conservation of original habitats and establishment of marine protected areas, decisions to reduce local environmental threats and other tensors and, reef restoration and rehabilitation projects. While restoration is the process of bringing the ecosystem to its original condition, rehabilitation aims to recover structural or functional characteristics. Therefore, the RRN aims to rehabilitate coral reefs by restoring coral populations.

Partner Training

The RRN coordinates coral nursery establishment, maintenance, management, outplanting and monitoring with its partners. Specifically, we assist with training local partners, developing and implementing criteria for restoration, nursery site selection, harvesting coral from source populations, growing corals in nurseries, outplanting corals to reefs and monitoring the success of restoration at multiple scales from coral colony to reef ecosystem. The RRN is providing opportunities to build partnerships between scientists, marine resource managers, conservation practitioners, businesses and coastal communities that depend on healthy reefs.

Coral Nurseries

Coral nurseries are an important component to marine conservation, as they provide a collection of species that can be added to the reef to help regenerate areas that are stressed or damaged. Slow growth rates of coral were once thought to limit our ability to restore corals reefs however it has since been shown that different corals grow at different rates and in favorable conditions can grow much faster than in natural conditions on reefs. The initial ideas behind coral nurseries were to help create and grow new reefs, and to help coral reefs recover from physical damage such as boat anchors, and climate change induced coral bleaching. Over the last few years many areas of coral reef have been rejuvenated with corals grown from a nursery and have created new habitats for marine life.

Many different species of corals can and are being grown in nurseries all over the world. The main corals being grown in the Reef Rescue Network are critically endangered Acroporid corals, Acropora cervicornis – Staghorn Coral and Acropora palmata – Elkhorn Coral.

Outplanting

The goal is to outplant nursery-reared corals back on the reef to bolster existing coral colonies and to increase the likelihood of a diversity of coral colonies being near enough to each other for successful cross-fertilization during sexual reproduction. By increasing population numbers and the numbers of distinct parent genotypes through propagation and outplanting of nursery grown fragments, sexual reproduction and recruitment are expected to have higher success rates ultimately aiding in the natural recovery of the species.

Outplanted corals have even spawned which is a huge indicator to the positive effects this type of coral rehabilitation can have and how it can help to restore huge tracts of reef.

Get Involved

Visitors and locals can now immerse themselves in coral restoration activities at a partner location within the Reef Rescue Network. The network has coral nurseries that offer coral restoration experiences throughout The Bahamas, Aruba & St. Lucia. PIMS has developed a PADI Reef Rescue Diver Specialty Course that dive shops throughout the Reef Rescue Network are teaching. To participate, you must be a certified open water diver and at least 12 years old. The course takes one day and consists of knowledge development and two open water dives at a coral nursery. Choose from our many partners offering this specialty via our Reef Rescue Diver Interactive Map and contact them direct to book your course.

This specialty intends to familiarize divers with the skills, knowledge, planning, organization, procedures, and techniques involved with coral nursery diving. PADI Reef Rescue Instructors educate divers about coral nurseries, including essential facts about coral reefs, threats facing corals, coral nurseries function and how to maintain coral nurseries.

Our interactive map here will show you where you can take the PADI Reef Rescue Diver Specialty Course, as well as other Coral Nursery Experiences. Please note, private coral nurseries are shown however these are solely for research and conservation and not accessible to the public.

https://pims.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Shortlist/index.html?appid=d450b78f646c4f0e8107398b152f4a0d

What You Will Learn

  • What corals are.
  • The different ways corals feed.
  • How to Identify different coral forms.
  • How corals reproduce.
  • The value of coral reefs.
  • Threats to coral reefs.
  • Steps to help protect coral reefs.
  • Coral restoration.
  • How to maintain a coral nursery.
  • Coral nursery problem solving
  • How to outplant corals.

Coral Nursery Experience

Some of our RRN partners offer a coral nursery experience whether on scuba or snorkel and can adapt the experience to suit your needs. You can learn how to assist with maintaining the nursery and get a hands-on experience or you can just scuba or snorkel the coral nursery as a fun dive to just observe and enjoy the nursery and marine life that it attracts. Another option is to scuba or snorkel one of the many restoration sites to view the corals that have been outplanted and witness for yourselves this habitat restoration and the marine life it has welcomed. See our RRN Interactive map for an option of coral nurseries you can visit.

Join Us

For more information on joining the Reef Rescue Network, please contact the Coordinator Hayley-Jo Carr via email – hayley.carr@perryinstitute.org

We love to hear about your experiences visiting coral nurseries within our network, share with us your photos, videos and comments via email or social media and we will share to our pages.

Follow Us On Social Media

Reef Rescue Network

Check out our EVENTS page for Reef Rescue Diver events and more! 

Other Resources

Coral Restoration Consortium: http://crc.reefresilience.org/

Society for Ecological Society: http://www.ser.org/

Reef Resilience Network: https://reefresilience.org/

HOW TO HELP

Through your support, Perry Institute for Marine Science can continue to protect our marine environment.

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