Coral Restoration

Reef Renewal Foundation Curaçao (RRFC) is dedicated to protecting and strengthening the corals on the island. A grant from the INNO-Fund of WWF-NL and dozens of other generous donors, made it possible for RRFC to experiment with a potentially simpler and cheaper coral nursery design using ropes to replace the traditional PVC coral nursery trees. Reef Renewal Foundation USA suggested that RFFC join them in experimenting with placing coral fragments in the braid of rope. This idea was originally suggested by Andrew Ross from Seascape Caribbean in Jamaica.

Vertical Rope Nurseries © RRFC

Project Overview

In 2023 RRFC set an ambitious goal to install 100 Vertical Rope Nurseries (VERNs) to increase their nursery capacity. Up till now they’e installed more than 75 VERNs so far. Through trial and error, the organization has learned:

  • While cotton ropes are biodegradable, they degrade too quickly in the nursery phase, and when outplanted with coral, the cotton rope becomes a mass of algae and eroded rope fibers that smothers the coral. Therefore, polypropylene works better than cotton.
  • They must be careful to grow Elkhorn coral in the nursery between 17 and 4 feet from the surface, and they may need to lower the ropes during hot water events.
  • While the VERNs require less maintenance, they need to periodically clean accumulations of fleshy algae and other organisms growing on the ropes and competing for space with the corals.
  • If Elkhorn VERNs are kept at the appropriate height and properly maintained, the Elkhorn coral will completely cover the entire rope and no more cleaning of the rope will be required.

Team Efforts

RRFC continues to explore various methods and materials to improve the success of innovative techniques for coral restoration success. With only two employees and two interns, RRFC has been very productive despite limited resources. A few highlights of the results in the past 1,5 year:

  • Outplanted 2,000 endangered corals.
  • Treated hundreds of corals affected by Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease.
  • Installed a new boulder coral nursery with 1,100 new coral fragments from 4 new species.
  • Maintained 50 coral nursery trees at 5 sites, housing 2,500 corals.
  • Developed partnerships with marine laboratories to propagate new coral species.
  • Certified 100+ divers as PADI Coral Restoration Curaçao Divers.

RRFC team © RRFC



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