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LPA Coral Rescue Program

Catching Up with Coral Rescue

Wednesday, December 14, 2022, written by Ashley Mitchell

For the first time since 2019, Loveland Living Planet Aquarium attended a workshop in the Philippines for an updated look at the Coral Rescue program. Dr. Ari Fustukjian, Vice President of Zoological Operations and a coral health veterinarian, visited Dumaguete on the island of Negros to experience the Coral Rescue project, which is supported by the Aquarium as well as local partner, the Mead Foundation.   

Hosted by Atlantis Philippines’ Dive Resorts and Liveaboards, the workshop took place at the site of the program’s newest nursery. This first-of-its-kind workshop was more than just evaluating restored coral. The weeklong trip brought together coral experts, including Coral Rescue’s Panglao nursery manager, Brylle Camargo, and Shane Gallimore of the Coral Restoration Foundation, in addition to Dr. Ari and a group of more than 20 guest divers from around the world. They shared techniques and experiences, assembled trees and hung newly rescued corals, and received lectures on the state of coral health and conservation both locally and around the world.   

As of Dr. Ari’s visit, the three nursery locations were performing stunningly. There are six trees at Dumaguete (including two new trees assembled at the workshop), ten trees at Panglao, and seven trees at Zambales. With four years of progress, there have been more than 1000 corals on 23 trees across three locations out planted to their natural habitat. Boasting a 70-80% survival rate once planted, the Coral Rescue program is off to a great start with room to continue growing.   

So, what’s next? More nursery sites, more trees, and more coral growth to start. As more corals return to the reef, long-term surveillance can provide important clues to what species, conditions, and genetic makeups are ideal Coral Rescue candidates. However, perhaps the most important factor is to continue to build new partnerships with community organizations along the Coral Triangle. The Aquarium and Dr. Ari, are involved in providing expertise and guidance as we continue restoration, but real, lasting restoration relies on local support and collaboration amongst many stakeholders who use or rely upon marine resources on a day-to-day basis. Enthusiasm for this first workshop was substantial and resulted in a new group of people aware of and sharing in the Aquarium’s mission to inspire.   

Click below for more information on Coral Rescue and for details on how you can be involved, follow us on social media:

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