03 Dec Rehabilitating Coral Reefs in the Nusa Penida MPA through the Adopt-A-Coral Program

To help rehabilitate damaged reefs in the Nusa Penida Marine Protected Area (MPA), CTC together with the Bali MPA Management Unit and the Nuansa Pulau Community Group launched its Adopt-A-Coral site through a small ceremony in Ped Village, Nusa Penida, on December 02, 2020.

This event was attended by the head (Bupati) of Klungkung District and the heads of the Marine and Fisheries Agency of Bali Province, the Nusa Penida MPA Management Unit Bali, the Nusa Penida Sub-District, and Ped Village.

Through this program, anyone can participate by adopting coral fragments found in the area that are transplanted onto reef substrate or artificial growing media placed on the seabed, which where the fragments will grow into adult corals. All adopters can write their name on a special tag made of lontar leaves that are then attached to the baby corals or coral fragments. A variety of coral types are commonly found on the site such as branching, table, foliose, massive, and sub-massive forms.

Over the last several years, reefs along the northern coast of the Nusa Penida MPA have suffered from widespread coral breakage caused by irresponsible marine tourism, disease, coral bleaching, and aquaculture. An ecological assessment done by CTC in 2020 found that there are remaining patches of intact reef in front of Ped Village that show signs of resilience such as deep color, active new growth, and healing from mechanical damage.

The resilience of the coral reefs in the area makes it an ideal site for the Adopt-a-Coral program, as the conditions are anticipated to support high survival rates of the newly transplanted corals. It is also an ideal site to try out coral rehabilitation methods that may be expanded and replicated elsewhere within the Nusa Penida MPA or other parts of Bali and Indonesia.

In addition to ecological rehabilitation, the project also aspires to provide socio-economic benefits to the local community through direct employment and training, outreach activities, and by creating a new snorkeling and diving site.

To ensure that this new site is effective and sustainable, CTC is following coral transplantation best-practice guidelines and methods under the Mars Assisted Reef Restoration System (MARRS). This method uses a star or spider web-like structure as an artificial substrate which makes it stable and well connected. It has been effective in increasing the number of natural coral recruits in Bali and Indonesia, enabling corals to grow faster and allowing reef-building species to live and form new habitats for other marine animals.

The Nuansa Pulau Community Group members will monitor, measure, and ensure that conditions are favorable for growth of these adopted corals on a regular basis. Coral adopters will also receive a progress update on their coral’s growth six months after it is transplanted.

The Adopt-a-Coral Program is also part of CTC’s support to the Nusa Penida MPA, home to some of the most diverse marine ecosystems in the world. The coral reefs in Nusa Penida MPA have been found to support at least 296 species of corals and 576 species of fishes. It is an important habitat for many marine megafauna, such as manta rays and bump-head sunfish.

CTC has collaborated with local groups to implement coral rehabilitation projects in various sites in the Nusa Penida MPA in the last few years. It is hoped that with this new collaboration, the program will reach a wider range of audiences and more participants. Through this program, anyone can contribute directly to marine conservation for a better and healthier sea in the future.

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