Workshop to Advance the Science and Practice of Coral Restoration

This workshop was held November 15-17, 2016 with the goal of fostering collaboration and technology transfer among coral restoration scientists, practitioners, and managers, and initiating a community of practice that continues to address the evolving role of active coral restoration in the evolutionary history of coral reef ecosystems. The talks cover recent scientific advances in coral biology to help plan and experiment with coral restoration, successes and failures in recent coral restoration projects, and inspiring future research to help advance the practice of coral restoration. The recordings and presentations can be viewed below.


Day 1 – November 15, 2016:

  • Taking coral restoration to the ecosystem scale – Tom Moore, NOAA Coral Reef Restoration Program (Video, Presentation)
  • The role of restoration in coral reef ecosystems – Les Kaufman, Boston University (VideoPresentation)
  • Valuing social benefits of restoration – Mike Beck, The Nature Conservancy (No Video, Presentation)
  • The scientific foundation for successful coral restoration programs – Bob Richmond, University of Hawaii (VideoPresentation)
  • Beyond restoration – intervention ecology – Margaret Miller, NOAA Fisheries Science Center (VideoPresentation)
  • An overview of the use of genetics in coral restoration – Andrew Baker, University of Miami (VideoPresentation)
  • Influence of genotype and the environment – Crawford Drury, University of Miami (VideoPresentation)
  • Thermal trait selections including symbionts – John Parkinson, Oregon State University (VideoPresentation)
  • Phylogenetic tree project overview – Scott Winters, Coral Restoration Foundation (VideoPresentation)
  • Using hybridization to aid restoration – Nikki Fogarty, Nova Southeastern University (No Video, Presentation)
  • Genetic basis of disease resistance – Steve Vollmer, Northeastern University (Video, No Presentation)
  • Disease intervention as a restoration tool – Cheryl Woodley, NOAA/NCCOS (VideoPresentation)
  • Interaction of temperature stress and disease resistance – Erin Muller, Mote Marine Laboratory (No Video, No Presentation)

Day 2 – November 16, 2016:

  • How can we restore reef resilience at scale? – Dirk Petersen, SECORE (No Video, Presentation)
  • Thinking systematically about how we accomplish our day to day restoration work – Andrew Ross, Seascape Caribbean (No Video, Presentation)

Scaling up in-water nurseries

  • Tracking and management of a large nursery – Jessica Levy, Coral Restoration Foundation – Florida (No Video, Presentation)
  • New variations on commonly used nursery structures
  • Prevention of storm damage and experiences
  • Partnerships with resorts and dive operators – Rita Ines Sellares, Dominican Foundation of Marine Studies (VideoPresentation)
  • Managing a volunteer workforce
  • Managing a paid community workforce – Lisa Carne, Fragments of Hope – Belize (VideoPresentation)
  • Reducing diver/coral interaction time – Ken Nedimyer, Coral Restoration Foundation – Florida (VideoPresentation)

Land-based nurseries

  • Trade-offs and BMPs in nursery design – Keri O’Neil, The Florida Aquarium (VideoPresentation)
  • Land-based nurseries as tools for restoration – Scott Graves, The Florida Aquarium (VideoPresentation)
  • Quarantine and health management – Cindy Lewis, Keys Marine Lab/Florida International Univ. (VideoPresentation)
  • Micro-fragging and re-sheeting – Dave Vaughan, Mote Marine Laboratory (No Video, Presentation)

Larval propagation

  • Settlement cues for acroporid larvae – Valerie Paul, Smithsonian Institution (VideoPresentation)
  • Restoring with cryopreserved gametes – Mary Hagedorn, Smithsonian Institution (No Video, No Presentation)
  • Sexual propagation of non-acroporids – Kristen Marhaver, CARMABI – Curaçao (No Video, No Presentation)
  • Scaling-up and reducing the costs – Valerie Chamberland, SECORE – Curaçao (VideoPresentation)
  • Large scale restoration using sexual recruits – Mark van Koningsveld, Van Oord (VideoPresentation)

Scaling-Up Outplanting: Ideas on current best approaches

Scaling-Up Outplanting: Ideas to reduce interaction time and increase efficiency

  • Ken Nedimyer, Coral Restoration Foundation – Florida (VideoPresentation)
  • Victor Manuel Galvan, Punta Cana – Dominican Republic (VideoPresentation)
  • Andrew Ross, Seascape Caribbean – Jamaica (No Video, No Presentation)
  • Tom Moore, NOAA Restoration Center – Florida (VideoPresentation)
  • Anastazia Banaszak, Unversidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (VideoPresentation)
  • Sean Griffin, NOAA Restoration Center – Puerto Rico (VideoPresentation)
  • Sean Griffin, NOAA Restoration Center – Puerto Rico (VideoPresentation)

Day 3 – November 17, 2016:

Optimizing restoration site selection

  • Current approaches to site selection – Christopher Slade, The Nature Conservancy (VideoPresentation)
  • Species distributions and restoration – Shay Viehman, NOAA NCCOS (VideoPresentation)
  • Prioritization of restoration sites through modeling and Zonation – Katie Wirt Ames, FL Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (VideoPresentation)
  • Larval connectivity modeling and restoration – Joana Figueiredo, Nova Southeastern University (No Video, No Presentation)
  • Optimizing for calcification – Ilsa Kuffner, US Geological Survey – Florida (VideoPresentation)
  • Using population models – Alex Molina, SAM – University of Puerto Rico (VideoPresentation)
  • Using population models – Tali Vardi, NOAA Fisheries (VideoPresentation)

Monitoring for ecosystem recovery

  • Review of new, large-area monitoring methods – Stuart Sandin, Scripps Institution of Oceanography (Video, No Presentation)
  • Using photo-mosaics to monitor restoration success – Brooke Gintert, University of Miami (VideoPresentation)
  • Snorkeler/GPS monitoring of reef-scale trends – Dana Williams, NOAA – SE Fisheries Science Center (VideoPresentation)
  • Restoration as fish habitat – Michael Nemeth, NOAA Restoration Center (VideoPresentation)
  • Developing programmatic benchmarks – Stephanie Shopmeyer, University of Miami (VideoPresentation)

Next steps

  • Integrating restoration practices in the U.S. – Alison Moulding, NOAA Protected Resources (VideoPresentation)
  • Overview of coral restoration consortium – Jennifer Moore, NOAA Protected Resources (VideoPresentation)
  • Reef managers survey results and reef resilience toolkit – Liz Shaver, Duke University (VideoPresentation)
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Adaptation Design Tool Online Course Announcement

Course banner

Ready to get practical with adapting your management activities in light of climate change, but wondering how to organize what can be a complicated ‘adaptation design’ process? A new course, Corals & Climate Adaptation Planning: Adaptation Design Tool, can help you as a coral reef manager incorporate climate-smart design into your management activities.

This month-long mentored training (8-10 hour time commitment) features interactive lessons, hands-on exercises, webinars, and interaction with experts and other managers. Using real-world examples, you will be guided through the process of incorporating climate change adaptation into a management plan, first using existing planned actions as a starting point, and then through the development of additional climate-smart strategies as needed.

The lessons are based on the user guide, Adaptation Design Tool: Corals & Climate Adaptation Planning, which was developed as a collaborative project of the Climate Change Working Group of the interagency U.S. Coral Reef Task Force and The Nature Conservancy.

This course was designed for coral reef managers but is also fully transferable for use with other systems and applications, such as wetland and watershed management planning. Everyone is welcome!

Important Dates:

  • Course Dates: October 16 – November 17, 2017
  • September 25 – October 16: Course Orientation and Introductory Webinar registration
  • October 16: Course Orientation and Introductory Webinar – Introduction to the Adaptation Design Tool (1 hour)
  • October 17 – November 16: Complete four self-paced lessons and learning exercises (approximately 6 hours)
  • November 6: Webinar 2 – Developing Climate-Smart Design Considerations for Existing Conservation and Management Actions (1.5 hours)
  • November 17: Webinar 3 – Expanding the List of Adaptation Options & Course Conclusion (1 hour)


To Register:
The course will open with an orientation webinar held on October 16 at 10:00 AM HST / 4:00 PM ESTRegister here for the Orientation Webinar which will cover how to enroll in the course. If you are not able to take this mentored course, there is a self-study version available here (Note: you will need to create a user account to access the self-study course). If you have questions, please contact us at

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Restoration Workshop Live Stream

This live stream of the Coral Reef Ecosystem Restoration Workshop at the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force meeting was broadcast as part of the of Coral Restoration Consortium webinar series and features two panels highlighting research and restoration of sponge and coral communities and herbivore populations to promote the health and vitality of reef ecosystems. View the presentations below.


Session 1: Sponge Restoration

Session 2: Herbivore and Coral Restoration

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New Techniques for Coral Restoration in the Caribbean

Watch on YouTube

May 18, 2017

Hear experts from the Global Coral Restoration Project provide an overview of coral restoration efforts around the world and discuss current obstacles and potential solutions. This seminar kicks off an in-person workshop designed to foster exchange between practitioners working in the fields of coral science, restoration, aquaculture and marine resource management. Explore the seminar presentations and learn about coral restoration from the experts!

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Scientific Writing – Hawai‘i, 2015

A four-day writing workshop was held for Pacific Island coral reef managers from Hawaiʻi, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa who received mentorship from The Nature Conservancy’s former Chief Scientist Peter Kareiva and team of reviewers to improve writing skills and finalize a journal publication for submission. Read about participants’ research on fish and octopus. Read the report.
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Restoration and Reef Resilience: Your Input is Needed

Coral Restoration photo for survey

Photo © Kemit-Amon Lewis

We are happy to announce that new coral restoration information and resources are coming soon to the Reef Resilience online toolkit and we’d like to hear from you! Please take this short survey and let us know what you need to be more effective in your work on coral restoration.

Because your response is important to us, we are giving away 5 copies of the new National Geographic book ‘Pristine Seas: Journey to the Ocean’s Last Wild Places’ by Enric Sala to participants. You will be prompted to enter into this raffle at the end of the survey.

Thank you for participating in our survey! Take the survey.

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New Network Resources: Spotlight on the Western Indian Ocean

Cleaning a coral nursery. © Reef Rescuers

Content Here

Improving Management of Spawning Aggregation Fisheries in the Seychelles Using Acoustic Telemetry

Marine managers in the Seychelles are collecting and using behavioral information on Shoemaker spinefoots to develop management strategies that protect spawning aggregations of these commercially important fish. Read the case study.

Reef Rescuers: Coral Gardening as an MPA Management Tool

To repair coral bleaching damage in a marine reserve in the Seychelles, a large scale reef restoration project uses “coral gardening”, a technique that involves collecting small pieces of healthy coral, growing them in underwater nurseries, and then transplanting them to degraded sites. Read the case studyWatch the webinar.

Preparing for Coral Bleaching in the Western Indian Ocean

David Obura of CORDIO East Africa presents updated guidance (in four basic steps!) for monitoring bleaching events in the Western Indian Ocean at basic, intermediate, and expert levels. Watch the webinar.

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Seychelles – Coral Restoration

Reef Rescuers: Coral Gardening as an MPA Management Tool

Cousin Island Special Reserve, Seychelles

A coral transplantation site at Cousin Island Special Reserve. © Reef Rescuers

A coral transplantation site at Cousin Island Special Reserve. © Reef Rescuers

The Challenge
In 1998, the mass coral bleaching event, caused by the coupling of El Nino and the Indian Ocean Dipole, severely affected the reefs of the Seychelles Archipelago. The 1998 bleaching catastrophe decreased live coral cover by up to 97% in some areas and caused many reefs around the islands to collapse into rubble (which later became covered with algae). In the following decades, coral recovery has been extremely slow in the inner granitic islands of Seychelles. Despite the existence of numerous no-take Marine Protected Areas (MPA) – an effective tool to bolster coral reef recovery – it has taken almost 20 years to see coral cover at pre-1998 levels in most areas in the region. Due to continuous global threats, such as changes in climate and ocean chemistry, MPAs alone may not be enough to assist in the recovery of coral reefs in the Seychelles. Consequently, more active conservation strategies are needed to promote reef recovery and build reef resilience and to achieve the long-term conservation of coral reef ecosystem services.

Cleaning the coral nursery. © Reef Rescuers

Cleaning the coral nursery. © Reef Rescuers

Actions Taken
The slow post-bleaching recovery motivated active restoration efforts in the inner islands of the Seychelles archipelago to assist in natural recovery. In 2010, Nature Seychelles launched the Reef Rescuers Project on Praslin Island. Financially supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), this climate adaptation coral restoration project seeks to repair coral bleaching damage in selected sites around Praslin and Cousin Island Special Reserve, a no-take marine reserve.

Through this project we are piloting the first-ever large scale active reef restoration project in the region using ‘coral gardening,’ a technique that involves collecting small pieces of healthy coral, raising them in underwater nurseries and then transplanting them to degraded sites that have been affected by coral bleaching. Forty thousand fragments of coral from 10 different branching/tabular species (Acropora hyacinthus, A. cytherea, A. abrotanoides, A. appressa, Pocillopora damicornis, P. grandis – senior synonym of P. eydouxi, P. meandrina, P. verrucosa, Stylophora pistillata, S. subseriata; species identification after Veron 2000 and nomenclature after the World Register of Marine Species) have been raised in 13 underwater nurseries located inside the Cousin Island Special Reserve. Between November 2011 and June 2014, a total of 24,431 nursery-grown coral colonies were transplanted to 5,225 m2 (0.52 ha) of degraded reef within the Cousin Island Special Reserve.

Coral colonies self-attaching. © Reef Rescuers

Coral colonies self-attaching. © Reef Rescuers

With the onset of a weak-to-moderately strong El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event starting late summer to early fall 2014 and continuing through 2016, we had a unique opportunity to determine the effectiveness of the choice of coral reef species (initially chosen based on survival rates during the last seawater warming anomaly) and the restoration process itself in alleviating the impact of warmer ocean temperatures. We are using standardized protocols to monitor the survival, reproduction, recruitment and bleaching response of donor and transplanted colonies. We continue monitoring at the transplantation site and two control sites, representing a healthy and degraded coral reef. Such monitoring allows us to evaluate the effectiveness of the restoration effort. Additionally, we are assessing the costs of large-scale reef restoration via coral gardening and the life cycle of coral reef restoration technology.

Transporting coral fragments. © Reef Rescuers

Transporting coral fragments. © Reef Rescuers

How successful has it been?
The long-term “success” of this mass transplantation is still being monitored but the project has already had positive outcomes. Forty-one practitioners from 11 countries have been exposed to reef restoration techniques by “on the job” work as volunteers up to three months on site, and eight experts have to date been formally trained through a full-time six-week classroom and field based training program. Before-and-after comparisons in coral cover at the transplanted site showed that the restoration project resulted in a 700% increase in coral cover, from about 2% in 2012 to 16% by the end of 2014. Similarly, we have documented a five-fold increase in fish species richness, a three-fold increase in fish density, and a two-fold increase in coral settlement and recruitment at the transplanted site. We also found that our coral transplants responded better to stressful conditions resulting from increased sea temperatures and a harmful algal bloom. The transplanted corals appear to recover faster and better than corals at other sites. The response of the transplanted reef to thermal stress bleaching is still being monitored. The preliminary analysis of the costs of reef restoration via coral gardening and the life cycle of coral reef restoration technology together with the ecological results so far support the application of large-scale, science-based coral reef restoration projects with long timescales to assist the recovery of damaged reefs. A proposal to scale up the coral farms to a mariculture venture so as to reduce costs through economies of scale has been accepted by the Seychelles government and funding is currently being sought.

Lessons Learned and Recommendations
A tool kit is currently being put together to highlight the lessons learned from the project. In summary, we have learned that:

  • Survival of coral donor colonies is high.
  • Survival of nursery colonies is high for the selected species listed above.
  • There is a natural supply of corals (corals of opportunity) to be grown in the nurseries and that eliminate the need to re-fragment nursery-grown or donor colonies.
  • Nurseries become floating reef ecosystems.
  • Natural cleaning of coral nurseries and coral ropes reduces nursery maintenance and increases transplantation success.
  • There is a positive transplantation effect on settlement and recruitment of new corals, fish diversity and density.
  • The response of transplanted corals to bleaching causative events needs close monitoring to assess the effects of coral gardening on building bleaching resistance.
  • There is citizen science interest internationally in receiving training on coral reef restoration.
  • Partnerships with the tourism sector can be developed to establish coral gardens (seascaping) as a guest attraction and as a key part of the industry’s environmental management programs and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
  • Large-scale coral reef restoration needs to be considered as a cost-effective tool to include in the MPA manager’s toolbox.

Funding Summary
Until 2015, funds to support the Reef Rescuers Project have been sourced and provided by USAID. Further financial support was received under the Government of Seychelles-Global Environment Facility (GEF)-United Nations Development Project (UNDP) Protected Area Project in 2011.

Lead Organizations
Nature Seychelles

Global Environment Facilitaty (GEF)

About the Reef Rescuers project

Transplanted corals attach themselves in pioneering reef restoration project in the Seychelles

Reef Rescuers on CNN Inside Africa

US Oceans Envoy praises Nature Seychelles’ work

Saving the giant clams

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