The ocean is home to some of the world’s largest, most colourful and diverse gardens: the coral reefs. Just like your own backyard houses a variety of lifeforms like birds and insects, the coral reef forms the habitat for varying species of fish and marine creatures. Coral reefs are said to contain up to 80% of our oceans biodiversity!

 

 

The importance of these underwater gardens becomes clear when aquatic springtime comes around. The reef spawns and releases its “pollen”, which plays a crucial part in the marine life cycle. This “pollen” is zooplankton.

The smallest fish gulp down big mouthfuls of zooplankton at a time, while larger animals like whales make use of their effective filter systems. This rich meal serves as the main source of energy for most marine life. Life in the ocean is sustained by the constant feast of garden bloom from spawning corals!

 

 

A thriving, healthy coral reef also protects the shoreline by absorbing the power of the tides, is an important source of nitrogen and even helps in recycling nutrients.

Sadly, coral reefs have taken a hard hit from the rise in water temperature and ocean acidification as a result of global warming and diseases caused by pollution. Metamorfosa aims to rebuild natural populations to promote recovery of the corals. 

But how do we do this? We follow this three-step process:

Step 1 – Fragmentation

Since corals grow really slowly (most of them grow only 1 cm a year!) the coral gardener has to manipulate the speed of growth. You can make corals grow faster through a process called fragmentation, or: “ fragging” for short. One simply cuts or snips a piece of coral off the mature coral. This smaller fragment, if well taken care of, can now grow up to 3-5 times faster than its mother coral!

 

Team members of the Metamorfosa project take care of the fragmented corals

 

Step 2 – The coral nursery

Once the coral has been fragmented, you have to take care of the corals in a nursery. At Metamorfosa we like to call the corals in this stage “baby corals”. During this period it is important to ensure that the corals stay clean and free of parasites, since they are still too young and weak.

 

Two divers place coral fragments in the nursery at Metamorfosa

 

Step 3 – Transplanting to the ocean floor

And then comes the magic moment! Once the corals are deemed strong enough, it is time to move them from the nursery back to the open ocean. Using a special glue they are placed on natural reef or… on the shoulders of a giant monkey!

 

One of the underwater sculptures at Metamorfosa has coral growing on its head!

 

As you can imagine, tending to a coral garden takes an immense amount of work. More (wo)manpower to is always needed to make sure the fragging, nursing and planting is being done. Contact us at sumberkimahill@gmail.com if you are interested in helping out!