Marine Biology

, Volume 149, Issue 3, pp 679–687 | Cite as

Steps in the construction of underwater coral nursery, an essential component in reef restoration acts

  • Shai ShafirEmail author
  • Jaap Van Rijn
  • Baruch Rinkevich
Research Article


Many coral reefs worldwide are rapidly declining, but efficient restoration techniques are not yet available. Here, we evaluate methodologies for reef restoration based on the “gardening concept”. A floating mid-water prototype nursery was placed at 6 m depth (14 m above sea-bottom) within the nutrient-enriched environment of a fish farm (Eilat, Red Sea). Ten colonies from five branching coral species provided 6,813 fragments (0.5–3 cm height). The fragments, each attached to a plastic pin, were inserted into plastic nets that were tied to a rope-net floating nursery. After 144 nursery days, only 13.1% of the fragments died and 21.2% were detached by mechanical forces. Small colonies ready for transplantation developed within 144–200 days. Ramets’ ecological volumes increased 13–46 folds and their heights by a factor of 3.5. After 306 days, the ecological volumes of the colonies increased 147–163 fold as compared to original volumes (revealing a daily growth rate constant of 1.67% during the first 5–10 months) and height values by a factor of six. Building and maintenance costs of the nursery were low. This nursery prototype demonstrates the feasibility of the coral “gardening concept” by fulfilling several important needs, namely, mass production of coral colonies at low costs, high survivorship, fast growth, short nursery phase and improved methodologies for handling farmed colonies.


Coral Reef Coral Coloni Artificial Reef Coral Fragment Restoration Measure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank D. Gada, M. Zooaretz, D. Brand, N. Berkovich and J. Botechiano for their help and to two referees for constructive suggestions. The study was supported by the BARD US-Israel Bi-National Agricultural Research and Development (3319-02 R), by the World Bank/GEF project and by INCO-DEV project (REEFRES)


  1. Abelson A, Shlesinger Y (2002) Comparison of the development of coral and fish communities on rock-aggregated artificial reefs in Eilat, Red Sea. J Mar Sci 59:122–126Google Scholar
  2. Abram NJ, Gagan MK, McCulloch MT, Chappell J, Hantoro WS (2003) Coral reef death during the 1997 Indian Ocean dipole linked to Indonesian wildfires. Science 301:952–955CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  3. Allison GW, Lubchenco J, Carr MH (1998) Marine reserves are necessary but not sufficient for marine conservation. Ecol Appl 8:79–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bellwood DR, Hughes TP, Folke C, Nyström M (2004) Confronting the coral reef crisis. Nature 429:827–833CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Berg DR (1995) Riparian silviculture system design and assessment in the Pacific Northwest Cascade Mountains, USA. Ecol Appl 5:87–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bongiorni L, Shafir S, Angel D, Rinkevich B (2003) Survival, growth and reproduction of two hermatypic corals subjected to in situ fish farm nutrient enrichment. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 253:137–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chadwick-Furman NE (1996) Reef coral diversity and global change. Global Change Biol 2:559–568CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chan HT, Chong PF, Ng TP (1988) Silviculture efforts in restoring mangroves in degraded coastal areas in Peninsular Malaysia. Galaxea 7:307–314Google Scholar
  9. Edwards AJ, Clark S (1998) Coral transplantation: A useful management tool or misguided meddling? Mar Pollut Bull 37:8–12Google Scholar
  10. Epstein N, Rinkevich B (2001) From isolated ramets to coral colonies: the significance of colony pattern formation in reef restoration practices. Basic Appl Ecol 2:219–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Epstein N, Bak RPM, Rinkevich B (2001) Strategies for gardening denuded reef areas: the applicability of using different types of coral material for reef restoration. Rest Ecol 9:432–442CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Epstein N, Bak RPM, Rinkevich B (2003) Applying forest restoration principles to coral reef rehabilitation. Aquat Conserv Mar Freshw Ecosyst 13:387–395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fox HE, Pet JS, Dahuri R, Caldwell RL (2002) Coral reef restoration after blast fishing in Indonesia. Proc 9th Int Coral Reef Symp 2:969–976Google Scholar
  14. Fox HE, Pet JS, Dahuri R, Caldwell RL (2003) Recovery in rubble fields: long-term impacts of blast fishing. Mar Pollut Bull 46:1024–1031CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  15. Gardner TA, Côté IM, Gill JA, Grant A, Watkinson AR (2003) Long-term region-wide declines in Caribbean corals. Science 301:958–960CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  16. Gleason DF, Brazeau DA, Munfus D (2001) Can self-fertilizing coral species be used to enhance restoration of Caribbean reefs? Bull Mar Sci 69:933–943Google Scholar
  17. Hatziolos ME, Hooten AJ, Fodor M (eds) (1998) Coral reefs: challenges and opportunities for sustainable management. World Bank, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  18. Hilbretz WH, Goreau TJ (1996) A method for enhancing the growth of aquatic organisms and structure created thereby. US patent #08/374993
  19. Hodgson G (1999) A global assessment of human effects on coral reefs. Mar Pollut Bull 38:345–355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hughes TP, Baird AH, Bellwood DR, Card M, Connolly SR, Folke C, Grosberg R Hoegh-Guldberg O, Jackson JBC, Kleypas J, Lough JM, Marshall P, Nyström M, Palumbi SR, Pandolfi JM, Rosen B, Roughgarden J (2003) Climate change, human impacts, and the resilience of coral reefs. Science 301:929–933CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  21. Keough MJ, Quinn GP (2000) Legislative vs. practical protection of an intertidal shoreline in South Eastern Australia. Ecol Appl 10:871–881CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Khoon GW, Eong OJ (1995) The use of demographic studies in mangrove silviculture. Hydrobiologia 295:1–3CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lindahl U (2003) Coral reef rehabilitation through transplantation of staghorn corals: effects of artificial stabilization and mechanical damages. Coral reefs 22:217–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lirman D, Miller MW (2003) Modeling and monitoring tools to assess recovery status and convergence rates between restored and undisturbed coral reef habitats. Restor Ecol 11:448–456CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. McClanahan TR (1999) Is there a future for coral reef parks in poor tropical countries? Coral Reefs 18:321–325CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ortiz-Prosper AL, Bowden-Kerby A, Ruiz H, Tirado O, Caban A, Sanchez G, Crespo JC (2001) Planting small massive corals on small artificial concrete reefs or dead coral heads. Bull Mar Sci 69:1047–1051Google Scholar
  27. Pandolfi JM, Bradbury RH, Sala E, Hughes TP, Bjorndal KA, Cooke RG, McArdle D, McClenachan L, Newman MJH, Paredes G, Warner RR, Jackson JBC (2003) Global trajectories of the long-term decline of coral reef ecosystems. Science 301:955–958CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  28. Pickering H, Whitmarsh D, Jensen A (1998) Artificial reefs as a tool to aid rehabilitation of coastal ecosystems: investigating the potential. Mar Pollut Bull 37:505–514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Raymundo LJ (2001) Mediation of growth by conspecific neighbors and the effects of site in transplanted fragments of the coral Porites attenuata Nemenzo in the central Philippines. Coral reefs 20:263–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rinkevich B (1995) Restoration strategies for coral reefs damaged by recreational activities: the use of sexual and asexual recruits. Restor Ecol 3:241–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Rinkevich B (2000) Steps towards the evaluation of coral reef restoration by using small branch fragments. Mar Biol 136:807–812CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Rinkevich B (2005) Conservation of coral reefs through active restoration measures: recent approaches and last decade progress. Environ Sci Technol 39:4333–4342CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  33. Rinkevich B, Loya Y (1983) Short term fate photosynthetic products in a hermatypic coral. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 73:175–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Risk MJ (1999) Paradise lost: how marine science failed the world’s coral reefs. Mar Freshw Res 50:831–837CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rose KA (2000) Why are quantitative relationships between environmental quality and fish populations so illusive? Ecol Appl 10:367–385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sabater MG, Yap HT (2002) Growth and survival of coral transplants with and without electrochemical deposition of CaCO3. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 272:131–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Schumacher H (2002) Use of artificial reefs with special reference to the rehabilitation of coral reefs. Bonner Zool Monogr 50:81–108Google Scholar
  38. Shafir S, Van Rijn J, Rinkevich B (2001) Nubbins of coral colonies: a novel approach for the development of inland broodstocks. Aquarium Sci Conserv 3:183–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Sherman RL, Gilliam DS, Spieler RE (2001) Site-dependent differences in artificial reef function: implications for coral restoration. Bull Mar Sci 69:1053–1056Google Scholar
  40. Smith LD, Hughes TP (1999) An experimental assessment of survival re-attachment and fecundity of coral fragments. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 235:147–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Soong K, Chen T (2003) Coral transplantation: regeneration and growth of Acropora fragments in a nursery. Restor Ecol 11:62–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Spieler RE, Gilliam DS, Sherman RL (2001) Artificial substrate and coral reef restoration: what do we need to know to know what we need. Bull Mar Sci 69:1013–1030Google Scholar
  43. van Treeck P, Schumacher H (1999) Artificial reefs created by electrolysis and coral transplantation: an approach ensuring the compatibility of environmental protection and diving tourism. Estuarine Coast Shelf Sci 49:75–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Vowell J (1994) Florida’s silviculture best management practices program. Lake Reserv Manag 9:126–127Google Scholar
  45. White AT, Vogt HP, Arin T (2000) Philippine coral reefs under threat: the economic losses caused by reef destruction. Mar Pollut Bull 40:598–605CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Wilkinson CR (2002) Status of coral reefs of the world: 2002. Australian Institute of Marine ScienceGoogle Scholar
  47. Yap HT (2000) The case for restoration of tropical ecosystems. Ocean Coast Manag 43:841–851CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Young TP (2000) Restoration ecology and conservation biology. Biol Cons 92:73–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shai Shafir
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jaap Van Rijn
    • 2
  • Baruch Rinkevich
    • 1
  1. 1.Israel Oceanographic and Limnological ResearchNational Institute of OceanographyHaifaIsrael
  2. 2.Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Quality SciencesThe Hebrew University of JerusalemRehovotIsrael

Personalised recommendations