August 1 – Lecture morning!

Yesterday evening, all participants of the workshop had arrived and we enjoyed a nice icebreaker barbecue at the SECORE mansion.
This morning is devoted to sharing knowledge by lectures.

After a word of welcome, Mike Brittsan introduced the SECORE Foundation, the funders and parters if this workshop.
He explained the participants about the Acropora restoration project on Curacao and how the workshops fit into the program.


Dirk Petersen pointed out the need for coral conservation with 95% of the Elkhorn corals destroyed in the past 20 years. Elkhorn coral represents all corals in this situation.
He briefly explained the reproduction process of brooders (Golf ball coral – Favia fragum) and broadcast spawners (Elkhorn coral – Acropora palmata and Staghorn coral – Acropora cervicornis), introduced the SECORE breeding techniques, and what’s so special about these. He concluded his presentation with the goals and future plans of SECORE.

After a short break, Paul Selvaggio showed some of the photos and films he made documenting the work of SECORE. Paul’s labor makes it possible to hand out many visual matarials to all participants, which they can use at their aquariums and institutions to illustrate coral conservation.
As a picture can say more than thousand words, these materials play an important role in explaining the public (and potential funders) what can be done to help save the underwater world.

Then, Bob Snowden explained the process of broadcast spawning more in detail. He showed some great movies, shot in May 2012 on Curacao, showing the spawning moment of Diploria labyrinthiformis (Brain coral), as well as pictures of Elkhorn corals staging to give an idea of how that looks.
With Paul as an Elkhorn coral branch, he demonstrated how to handle the spawning nets underwater without damaging the reef or the gametes. He also gave an overview of the lab work that needs to be done in order to get the fertilization process started, as well as the fertilization and settlement strategies that have proven to be successful. He finished his presentation with some beautiful shots of the outplants of 2011 and the years before.

Next, Valérie Chamberland presented herself, how she ended up on Curacao in 2010 already with CARMABI, where she completed several very interesting and challenging projects. Among other things, she moved some Elkhorn coral colonies that were doing very well, away from a future constructing area to a safe location. After that, she started her Phd project on Curacao working together with SECORE, CARMABI and the University of Amsterdam.
The main goal of her Phd research is to get answers to the question “How can we bolster the recruitment succes for restoration efforts?”. Critical steps in this study are: fertilization rate, succesful settlement, outplanting methods, early stage survival and growth rate. Or in other words: Valérie tries to find out what makes coral babies happy.

In the afternoon we will do a check dive with all first-time participants and a fun dive with the participants that have been working with us on Curacao before. Of course, we will update the weblog as soon as possible with more stories and great pictures of Paul!


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