Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata)
Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 142510036
Field surveys and restoration work towards the conservation of the critically endangered Elkhorn and Staghorn coral on Eleuthera, Bahamas
Elkhorn and staghorn coral are critically endangered yet used to be the most dominant reef-building corals in the Atlantic and Caribbean oceans. Their typical habitats are on reefs in shallow water throughout The Bahamas, Florida, and the Caribbean. However, their populations have decreased drastically; over 80 % of the population has disappeared since the 1980's due to disease, hurricanes, predation, and climate change. As the populations of these main reef-building corals decreased, the reefs in Caribbean and Atlantic ocean have lost their complex structures and become macroalgae dominant. The colonies of these species that still exist in this region are important to study because they are the survivors from the recent high mortality. Therefore, local demographic data and monitoring of these species are essential for more comprehensive conservation planning. The coral reefs around Eleuthera are key ecosystems supporting coral reef fish, providing nursery habitats and providing breeding grounds for numerous species of conservation and economic importance. The health of these reefs are paramount for effective marine conservation on Eleuthera and throughout the Bahamas. The IUCN Redlist for Threatened Species recommends research into the population abundance, ecology, habitat status, threats and coral restoration for elkhorn and staghorn corals. The objectives of this project are to assess the abundance and distribution of elkhorn and staghorn colony populations around Eleuthera with a focus on south Eleuthera. To collect biological and environmental data to assess the health of elkhorn and staghorn corals in Eleuthera towards the future protection and survival of these species. To maintain and monitor a coral reef nursery (already established) towards future restoration efforts To transplant coral from the nursery onto the reef.
Project 142510036 location - Bahamas, North America