Elkhorn Mission on Pinel

Yesterday afternoon I went on a quick expedition to the lagoon area off the north beach of Pinel with Pauline from the Réserve Naturelle. Our goal was to check the elkhorn corals to see if there were broken pieces suitable for transplanting. Elkhorn corals are both prone to breakage and often do well when transplanted.

At the large elkhorn we located we found a very interesting scene. The main colony was large and healthy. There were a couple pieces I had wedged into the dead coral substrate on an earlier visit as well as a number of other pieces on the sea floor. While a few of these were loose, many of them had managed to affix themselves and were growing in the areas down-current from the main colony. Most surprising was one particularly large branch that had affixed itself upside-down with the broken part at the top.

It was encouraging to see how well the coral was colonizing naturally with the broken pieces, but we also planned to visit the site regularly. Even though many pieces had successfully reattached, it is unclear what the percentage of successful reattachment is. It is possible that the dozen successes are just a small subset of the total number of broken pieces. A bit more ominous was the presence of a fair amount of algae in the lagoon, perhaps indicating an excess of nutrients that could be problematic for corals. More news to come!

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