Kuleana Coral Restoration is dedicated to using sound scientific principles to maximize the amount of positive impact we can have on the coral reef ecosystem in a timely and cost-effective way. To realize this commitment we are continuously conducting research, and diligently collecting data during all of our restoration operations. We use our own scientific data as well as scientific discoveries from around the world to continually guide and reinform our restoration efforts.
Kuleana Coral is focusing on the following research areas:
CORAL OUTPLANT SURVIVABILITY AND GROWTH RATES
Coral survivability is key to an effective restoration outcome. We are exploring factors that affect the survivability of outplanted corals so we can refine our techniques to have the largest possible positive impact on the reef. By tracking outplant success, we better understand how the health, size and species of the source material affects the long term survivability and growth of the outplants.
There are several methods used around the world for reattaching corals to the reef. We are exploring different methods to find the most effective and non-invasive approach suitable for the unique ecology of Hawaiian coral reefs.
RATIONAL RESTORATION DESIGN
Using our comprehensive monitoring and mapping of the surrounding reefs we aim to design the restoration sites to reflect the profile of the natural healthy reefs nearby. Considering factors such as depth, current direction, temperature, species distribution, colony spacing, etc., we can outplant coral colonies in natural and self-sustaining ecosystems.
We aim to understand the impacts of our restoration efforts--not only the coral’s health and growth over the long term, but also the impact on the fish, invertebrate, and algal populations.
DISLODGED CORAL SURVIVABILITY
Corals are dislodged in many ways (anchors, swimmers, storms, substrate failure, etc). Since our current primary restoration strategy is to collect and reattach these compromised corals, we must better understand their fate in the absence of intervention. It is well accepted that most dislodged corals will die, but there are critical questions that can help guide the restoration of said corals.
How long do dislodged corals survive unattached and how long are they viable candidates for direct restoration?
What percentage of colonies are able to naturally reattach to the reef?
What are the major causes of detachment in our area and around the state?
How do these factors vary by species?
This propagation technique increases growth rates, providing more surface area and forming a single colony in a fraction of the time they would take to grow otherwise as fragments fuse together. We are exploring factors related to fragment size, arrangement, and compatibility with various underwater structures.
Opportunities for Collaboration
We encourage graduate students researching coral reef restoration to contact us about specialized collaboration opportunities. We can provide data sets, feedback to proposed areas of interest, and access to restoration sites off West O'ahu for data collection.
Kuleana Coral Restoration has partnered with the “Restore With Resilience” (RWR) project and its various contributors including- Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, NOAA, Hawaii Department of Aquatic Resources, and Malama Maunalua.