Cleaning A Coral Nursery - What You Need To Know

Cleaning A Coral Nursery On Phi Phi Island

We’re fortunate enough at the Adventure Club Phi Phi to regularly have volunteers from the various Dive Centres that call Phi Phi Island their home to come and help keep our Coral Nurseries nice and clean. When it comes to cleaning a coral nursery, monthly clean-up and maintenance are required. Algae can grow out of control and unrestrained if this is not done monthly, which can lead to nurseries coral fragments becoming smothered.

The Coral Nursery at Phi Phi Ley has been an ongoing passion project for well over 15 years now and in that time we’ve managed to grow literally thousands of Corals. We take the new Corals over to the damaged areas and introduce them to the natural reef. This helps to restock and encourage the growth of the Coral.

Unfortunately, the growth rates of the Coral are slow, at something like a few millimetres per month, and this is targetting the Corals that are considered fast-growing such as Montipora and Acropora. The fact is Coral is slow-growing and fragile, which makes cleaning a Coral Nursery that little bit more difficult.

How does cleaning a coral nursery help the ocean?

Challenge Yourself By Cleaning A Coral Nursery

Seeing many speedboats etc pull up to the Coral area and drop their anchors does tend to make you think “Why Bother?” on occasion, but that doesn’t deter us for long. We know the importance of cleaning a Coral Nursery and will keep doing it as taking on the task of cleaning a Coral Nursery is not something you can just pick up on a whim and break routine maintenance because you’re too busy or can’t be bothered. It takes equipment, gasoline, boats, food, money, time, and effort to keep them clean, and perhaps most importantly, it takes a lot of willing volunteers to help out.

There are always a number of natural environmental elements that put our project under pressure. These include simple marine life like Drupella Snails, Parrotfish, Crown of Thorn Seastars, Algae, and even Graze on Coral Polyps. Predations such as these are not normally a threat in a balanced reef. In fact, these elements help add diversity to the many different marine life and coral species that inhabit the reef. The animals we’ve mentioned graze on the reef. essentially cleaning the reef for you naturally and helping to provide a fresh substrate, encouraging other species that inhabit the coral to settle easier.

However, if the reef is unbalanced, the coral grazers mentioned above can end up reducing the cover that the live coral provides, causing the coral to phase shift from “Coral-Dominant” to “Algae Dominant”.

How To Keep The Coral Oxygenated?

A good concentration of carbonate in the water is needed for the corals to grow. Carbon Dioxide levels play a huge part in dictating the carbon carbonate levels. The Carbon Dioxide gets absorbed into the water, causing a reaction that creates carbonic acid. This acid then releases protons, which convert the carbonate to bicarbonate when they are combined. As the C02 begins to enter the water, the carbonate concentration will decline. They will continue to decline steadily as more and more C02 is released into our atmosphere.

If the coral was able to regrow quickly, any of the grazing organisms on the coral reef would not really be an issue. Unfortunately, the corals are now able to bounce back as quickly as they are being consumed with the calcification speed slowing down because of the carbonate concentration in the water.

Cleaning a coral nursery can help the natural inhabitants

How Cleaning A Coral Nursery Effects Tourism

The Coral Nursery and Artificial Reef areas around Phi Phi Island are popular places for both Snorkelers and Scuba Divers alike. The demand to explore these areas brings numerous boats from the surrounding mainland, filled with guests that want to see all that Phi Phi Island has to offer. Due to the increase in boat traffic, we’ve seen a rise in pollutants in the water. These include gasoline spillage, human waste, and sun creams which are highly toxic to the corals.

Some guides encourage their group of Snorkelers to feed the local fish with foods like rice and bread. The tourists are oblivious to the fact that by feeding them this, the fish will neglect their usual feeding duties on the corals. More dominant fish then tend to fight off the other fish in the area affecting the balance of the reef’s health.

There’s also the issue of speedboats not using mooring buoys and instead just dropping anchor. Imagine spending years helping the coral reef grow and develop to see it all destroyed by a speedboat anchor, all in a matter of seconds. Heartbreaking, honestly.

Why Should You Bother Cleaning A Coral Nursery?

So this is where we go full circle and answer the original question, why should you bother cleaning a Coral Nursery? Without trying to sound like we’re preaching too much, the simple answer is that the Ocean provides, and we as a species rely on the many resources that we take from the ocean each year. In turn, the ocean itself relies on its coral reef health ensuring that the millions of different marine life species that rely on it during their juvenile stages have a healthy habitat.

Millions of people across the globe rely on Fish to feed them daily. Just 1 person making a small effort would more than likely make no difference, but perhaps a thousand small efforts might just change things for the better.

To find out how to volunteer or just more general information about our Coral Nurseries, click here or contact us now.

By Published On: February 13th, 2022Categories: Coral Nursery
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