Conservation of orange corals in the Mediterranean


It is a pioneering project in Europe that seeks to understand the reproductive mechanisms and natural cycle of orange corals (Calculation of astroids) and generate management tools for its conservation.

A little over a year ago, the MedCoral program launched the pilot action for the planting of corals. The conservation project, carried out by HyT in collaboration with the Seville Aquarium, manages for the first time to close the reproductive cycle of the orange coral, with 100% survival in the environment.

Development of the Mediterranean coral project

MedCoral, the H&T program for the knowledge and conservation of Mediterranean corals started 15 years ago with the study of the different corals of the Mediterranean, in particular the biological, ecological and genetic aspects of orange coral.

During these years of intensive study and monitoring of the species, key aspects of its biology have been known, “which has allowed us to develop a pioneering initiative on our coast and nationally and internationally, also integrating innovation, science and engineering in each of the steps taken” comments David Leon, Project coordinator at H&T.

First phase

The first phase of this action started in 2021 with collection of larvae of this species in the protected areas of Acantilados de Maro-Cerro Gordo and Cliffs and Seabed of Punta de la Mona (Málaga, Granada) just as they emerged from the tentacles of the coral in search of a substrate to attach themselves to.

Immediately, these larvae were transferred to the quarantine facilities of the Seville Aquarium, where technical staff monitored the entire process of fixation, metamorphosis, feeding, growth, etc. for one year. “The larvae of this coral, which we at MedCoral call recruits, are released only once a year in a coordinated fashion, in a magical event that lasts a few days. Knowing the biology of the species also makes it possible to anticipate this outing to prepare everything”, he comments. Alexis Teron, H&T Scientific Advisor.

Second step

The second phase of the program, carried out a few weeks ago, was successfully concluded with the Placement of colonies grown in the Aquarium, in the natural environment. Now it remains to monitor their growth through periodic examinations of the area to see how they evolve, until they are fully integrated and even reproduce.

Mediterranean corals are under threat, but thanks to research and pioneering programs like this, we can reverse the situation and conserve such important species for the marine environment, for the Mediterranean and for Andalusia” it is said Rocio Alcazar, director of the Aquarium of Seville.

This project, coordinated by HyT, also benefits from the collaboration of the Seville Aquarium, the scientific advice of the University of Seville and the administrative support of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Development Sustainable.

endangered corals

Why is it really important to recover corals? Corals are vital in the seas. They form habitats and ecosystems; they protect and bring sediment to beaches; they generate wealth through the blue economy; they are sources of new medicines and reproduction and fattening areas for species of halieutic interest.

Mediterranean corals, in addition to other coral areas on the planet, are in danger due to human activities, driven by climate change, pollution, industrial fishing and the entry of invasive species, such as invasive algae . Rugulopteryx okamurae.

Character font: DIANA / ECO AWARENESS

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