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Working with Crew3000, a nonprofit that is focused on coral conservation efforts, Post University is aiding in the restoration of coral reefs.  Early this month, Dr. Maura Bozeman, Academic Program Manager for Environmental Science, traveled to Puerto Aventuras, Mexico, to help Crew3000 install two new tables for their coral farm.

The coral farms sit 60 feet under the ocean’s surface among the coral reefs it helps to restore. It consists of tables made of PVC with fragments of staghorn coral hanging from them. The fragments were found buried in the sand nearby.  Crew members tie the coral fragments to the tables, allowing them to grow naturally.  This coral reef restoration work is critical to the welfare of our oceans.

“Coral reef acts as an essential habitat for countless organisms, like shrimp, crab, fish, and eel,” Bozeman said. “These, in turn, are fed upon by larger creatures, like sea turtles, sharks, and rays.  Of particular importance, coral reefs act as nurseries for larval fish, protecting them while they are too small to survive in the open.  Losing coral reef habitat damages many aspects of marine food webs.”

Active restoration and coral gardening, like that performed by Crew3000, is necessary because staghorn coral is a particularly good habitat for reef organisms.  However, staghorn coral is also particularly sensitive to human impact. Over 90 percent of staghorn coral has died off in the last 30 years in many places in the Caribbean.  The loss of the staghorn coral is caused by warming sea temperatures, pollution from fertilizer runoff and septic tank leaks, sediment from coastal construction, and harmful fishing practices.  Climate change is also increasing the acidity of the ocean, which reduces the ability of coral to form their skeleton.

“Giving these sensitive, yet important species, a helping hand through ‘farming’ helps maintain essential reef habitat while we resolve the other environmental issues that currently threaten the health of coral reefs,” said Bozeman.

Bozeman captured her coral reef restoration efforts in the video blog above. In it, you’ll not only learn more about the work to restore these reefs, you’ll see stunningly beautiful footage of the reefs and the sea life these efforts are trying to preserve.