NUS partners WWF-Singapore to pilot coral restoration in deeper waters

Researchers from the NUS Tropical Marine Science Institute, in partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature Singapore, together with the National Parks Board, are working to move coral restoration to deeper waters in the Southern Islands. The project aims to understand how to restore corals in the deeper reefs of around 6-8m in Singapore waters.

For the pilot, seven hard coral species with higher chances of surviving in low-light conditions have been selected. The corals are first grown in nursery tanks under low-light conditions at St John’s Island National Marine Laboratory. Once they have grown into a suitable size of 3cm to 5cm, they are transplanted to light-limited reef zones found in the Southern Islands.

Dr Jani Tanzil, Senior Research Fellow at NUS TMSI, said, “The scientific outcomes from this research project will also hopefully contribute to the upcoming national effort to plant 100,000 corals that will kick-start natural recovery.”

“Around the Southern Islands, where most of our remaining reefs are concentrated, we have lost a lot of corals at depths beyond 6m to 7m. Live coral cover at these deeper depths have dropped from up to 45 per cent in the 1980s, to less than 5 to 16 per cent today, with no recovery to historical levels,” added Dr Tanzil.

“Although restoring corals at this zone can be challenging, our research shows that it is possible. We just need to plan a lot more.”

As of February 2023, about 160 corals have been transplanted in the waters off Kusu island. Additional to this, another 200 are located in Bendera Bay, an artificial lagoon managed by NParks.

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