Coral reefs are the basis of marine ecosystems. One of the functionalities is that it attracts fish, which is an important source of food supply in the fishing village Shimoni, Kenya. Unfortunately the reefs in this area have been damaged due to dynamite fishing. In collaboration with Boskalis, REEFolution Kenya* and Wageningen University & Research we have started a reef restoration project to restore the damaged coral reefs in the area. Together with the local community we have successfully installed artificial reefs to provide habitat for marine life, thereby restoring the damaged ecosystem.
REEFolution Kenya runs a coral nursery. After the installation of the coral trees, small pieces of living corals called Coral of Opportunity are grown. Once they are strong enough they can be transported to artificial reefs for further development.
When the coral are placed on the artificial reefs this provides a 'kickstart' to the restoration of the local ecosystem. PhD students of Wageningen University & Research, REEFolution and Kenyatta University are currently monitoring the development of these corals. It is amazing to see how fast the artificial reef is adopted as habitat by other marine animals!
After a couple of days the corals are attracting fish that are starting to explore the various cavities of the artificial reefs. After a some weeks the different corals start to adopt the hard substrate and after months the monitoring program shows that the corals are successfully growing!
A couple months after the corals are placed they are slowly taking over the artificial reef. All sorts of fish are attracted and the monitoring results are showing an increase of biodiversity and populations!
*The REEFolution Kenya project aims to restore and create corals reefs together with the local community in order improve livelihood opportunities in fishery and ecotourism. In addition, the project actively engages in outreach and education activities to raise awareness on marine conservation. The project is based in Shimoni and closely collaborates with Mkwiro village on Wasini Island.