© 2016 Lindsay Cope

Coral Gardening Updates Phase 2 & 3

Ongoing monitoring of the coral nurseries in Tanagan have revealed that my dive team in Tanagan are mermen!  I have never seen anyone so capable, calm, and comfortable in the water. I have returned to Tanagan three times, two times for monitoring and cleaning and once for replanting and removing the coral nurseries, here is a summary of our activities and observations.

Our first trip back to the site was over two weeks after the placement of the nurseries. We arrived to find the health of our corals in decline. The depth of the nurseries was only 2.9 meters, perhaps we thought it was deeper because we placed them at high tide, but they were suffering due to excessive heat at low tide.  Using a lift balloon, we transferred the nurseries one at a time to a site 6.8 meters deep, next to the giant clam project of Tanagan.


bleaching is taking over




The following week, we returned to the site to check on the nurseries.  Still white with the onset of bleaching, I worried for our corals. We scrubbed them clean of algae and monitored the surrounding site.  The Department of Environment and Natural Resources had placed 20 giant clams in the Tanagan MPA at the beginning of May.  We took the opportunity to check on them and found that 4 had died, that is a 20% loss in just two weeks.  As we swam around, I noticed that hard corals were showing signs of bleaching and soft corals were less spirited than they had been a month before.  As we entered the water from the shore, we were alarmed to find the seagrass bed was covered in dead sea cucumber.  After the second monitoring visit, I was worried that we wouldn’t be replanting the corals from the nursery and it was clear that there is an emerging need to investigate ecosystem health in Tanagan.  An industrial fish farm nearby the monitoring site could be modifying the ecosystem health or perhaps the prolonged El Niño is a factor, it is hard to say what the causes are without some investigation.

On June 4, I returned to the site with the assistance of the Tanagan divers and fellow PCV Zak Williams.  Our dive plan was to visit the nursery first to see if we could salvage some fragments for replanting.  If there weren’t enough, our plan was to collect coral fragments around the site and practice hammering and securing corals underwater.  I was pleasantly surprised that the state of the corals had not gotten worse, in fact they looked much better than they did when we transferred the nurseries! We were able to replant about half of the corals from the nursery, mostly staghorn and porites species, and had no need to collect additional corals.  We removed the nurseries on the second dive, again using a lift balloon.  We lifted the nurseries one at a time, using the banka to transport them to shallow water to be carried to the shore.


Planting corals, I love that Didick just took his fins off and plopped down in the sand 🙂


tying the coral


securely planted coral


Zak, another PCV, helps us with the planting activities




collecting and cleaning corals from the nursery

For now, we won’t be getting back in the water for the project, but there is still much to do.  I will work with the PO to promote their strategic plan and to develop tourism opportunities with local resorts.  The reef is beautiful and a perfect site for snorkeling, and I hope that we can promote the Barangay for visitors to see the beauty of Tanagan.  Inspired by the productivity of the community in Tanagan, the LGU has identified BANCA as a beneficiary in upcoming livelihood projects! I couldn’t be more proud of my team in Tanagan and all their hard work!



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