Main content

Purchase Students Help Maintain a Coral Nursery

Students from the Coral Reef Biology and Ecology study abroad program helped maintain a coral nursery in Roatan, off the coast of Honduras, last January.

Students from the Coral Reef: Biology and Ecology program helped maintain a coral nursery in Roatan during the program last January. This coral nursery, established by the Roatan Institute for Marine Science, is attempting to grow bits of coral that break off during storms so they can be “re-planted” on the reef.

This coral nursery is focusing on Staghorn Coral (Acropora cervicornis), a species that used to be one of the most important reef-building corals in the Caribbean, but is now rare.

The small pieces of brown coral are suspended by fishing line from the coral “tree” made from white tubing. The hope is that the coral fragments will grow much larger and eventually can be re-introducing onto the reef, improving the overall health of the reef.

Our students spent one of their scuba dives cleaning algae and other unwanted “fouling” organisms that grow on the tree and threaten the health of the corals.

Students in this program may already be scuba divers, or they may learn during the program. They use scuba diving to learn about the corals, fish, and other organisms that live on the reef and the ecology of the reef community. They also swim and dive with dolphins and sea turtles that frequent the reef in Roatan, and learn methods for evaluating the health of the reef.

This year’s Coral Reef: Biology and Ecology program is Dec. 30, 2017 through Jan. 20, 2018. Students can request program information and application instructions from study.abroad@purchase.edu.