Volunteering coral gardening on the reef
Stand Up Paddle Boarding
Locally cooked dishes made by the village you will stay with including:
Dalo and cassava
Bele, a local spinach;
Fresh fish cooked in coconut milk;
earth oven roasts, 'lovo'
And even Octopus!
You will also eat some western dishes on your trip. All food is generally not spicy and portions are big!
You will help produce a special snorkeling area to view the “super corals” that give us hope that coral reefs can survive into the future.
This unique volunteering trip is one of the first of its kind in Fiji to specialise in coral gardening.
Island Spirit has been coral gardening different locations in Fiji for four years and Dr. Bowden-Kerby has been gardening corals in Fiji for over twenty years. He is also a lead consultant on successful reef restoration projects in the Caribbean.
While colleagues of his in Florida and Hawaii are working in labs to develop fast-growing, bleaching resistant corals, Austin has taken a more direct and quickly scalable field approach: he harvests small branches from “super-corals” that have survived major bleaching events, and transplants them into hand chosen and specially located, sheltered nurseries where they grow quickly into “mother corals”.
These corals are then trimmed regularly to create second-generation bleaching-resistant “seed corals” for transplanting back to the reefs, to create diverse reef patches that can better withstand increasing ocean temperatures, creating, as he calls it “Reefs of Hope”.
A new and especially exciting aspect of Austin’s reef gardening approach, which we will be implementing, is that his restored patches of adapted corals serve to attract coral larvae which drift in from up-current reefs, accelerating natural reef recovery processes.
This is thought to be because wild spawned larvae use the scent of living corals as a signal to settle out of the water column. Newly settled corals start out as a single polyp, and they must acquire their symbiotic micro algae from the environment in order to survive.
Because the super corals transplanted to the reef contain bleaching resistant “super” algae, and because these super algae constantly leak out of the corals into the environment, the super algae have a very high chance of being taken in by the newly settled corals. Therefore, in an area that has suffered large-scale bleaching or storm damage, newly settled corals of diverse species can become super corals by acquiring super algae, simply by association with transplanted super corals!
So, by manually seeding a battered reef with small colonies of second generation super corals, both reef recovery and adaptation to a warming climate is greatly accelerated. History will be made on this voyage as we witness the formation and implementation of a workable “Reefs of Hope” strategy for Fiji’s reefs, the first of its kind in the South Pacific.