Seychelles Islands Fight to Save Coral Reefs through Governmental Strategies

When it comes to discussing coral reefs these days, it seems that the only news we get is that corals get more and more endangered every day by climate change – namely, sea temperature rising. Not so long ago, we talked about plastic contaminating coral reefs, a problem many conservationists are taking very seriously. Today’s news focus on the Seychelles Islands’ government fight to save coral reefs in the area and engage in serious efforts towards their conservation. Seychelles are, thus, following Guam’s example. We reported that the National Coral Reef Management in Guam has already initiated talks and procedures to preserve the Guam coral reef and promote eco-friendly, mindful touristic practices.

According to the chairman of the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles, David Rowat, Seychelles lost up to 90% of its coral reefs in 1998 in some areas, in an environmental event known as bleaching. During that event, the coral in warming waters expelled the colorful algae that lived within their skeletons and, without their nutrients, the coral starved. Another bleaching event occurred in 2016 after the reefs had partly recovered, but the reef in the area is facing serious climate change threats.

The problem, as we said in the beginning, lies within the sea temperatures’ continuous rise. The bleaching phenomena also severely affected the Great Coral Barrier Reef, which is still recovering from that particular environmental event. While still not dead, the Great Barrier is merely surviving. Its peer in Seychelles is also going through the same challenges.

If we are not careful, by the end of the century we will live to see the corals’ extinction. Ocean acidification, overfishing, sea pollution, and other environmental issues will lead to the corals’ demise. It seems that they can disappear more quickly than they can recover, with dire consequences for marine ecosystems. As we already reported, one of the most important threats to coral are warming seawater and the carbon dioxide absorbed into the ocean. Ocean heatwaves in 2015, 2016 and 2017 finished off an astonishing 20% of the coral on Earth. This is troubling, for countless wildlife depends on coral reefs for their survival.

Seychelles, however, do not want to take such risks. Latest news show that the Seychelles government announced a pioneering deal where it used part of the money it owed other nations to invest in marine protected areas in order to save the coral reef.

Largest Coral Restoration Program

The Marine Conservation Society has both land- and ocean-based coral nursery sites. After noticing that some corals regained their vitality much faster than their family members did after the bleaching event in 2016, marine scientists called them super-corals and took them to special nurseries for regrowth and transplanting. Seychelles conservation organizations have launched a number of coral reef restoration projects around the nation’s 115 islands. One of them – Nature Seychelles – managed to nurture and transplant more than 50,000 coral fragments, becoming the largest coral restoration program.

Rope Nursery or How to Save Coral Reefs one Fragment at a Time

A rope nursery represents an improvised underwater skeleton, where they bounce to life, develop, and become stable organisms. Coral conservationists then take the corals back to the reef to “plant” them where they belong. The transfer of the tiny baby corals goes back home with the help of professional divers. They take the tiny corals to a degraded reef in a national marine park, then attach them using nontoxic epoxy resin.

The Seychelles government is working now with the Nature Seychelles organization to find money for a proposal to increase the size of the coral farming operation and develop improved methods. The aim is to turn part of the operation into a business so that it can pay for reef restoration well into the future, according to Nature Seychelles representatives.

They need to hurry, however. According to officials, “restoration is really only a tool to try to help the reef to recover faster, especially because coral bleaching is projected to happen annually by 2050.” In other words, the government and the charities involved in the conservation and restoration of the Seychelles corals have to find efficient and budget-smart solutions to save the coral reef before it is too late. With a bleaching event happening annually, all the coral reefs in the world are going to face harder and harder times, and, if we do not do anything about it, ultimately, extinction.

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William E. Eubanks
 

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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