We Have Underwater Billboards

Announcing ecological work
BY: JACK CROUTON

A large sign planted underwater at Cabo Pulmo National Park announces that restoration of the coral is underway. The billboard doesn’t say it, but the implication is pay attention to this fragile environment, didn’t we tell you this is a protected park when you checked out your gear?

From August 2017 to August of this year,  the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas (Conanp), in collaboration with the Reef Systems Lab of the local university (UABCS), will restore around 800 chunks of coral in Cabo Pulmo and the nearby Isla Espíritu Santo. Funding comes from the Natural Disasters Fund (Fonden).

These researchers pick up chunks of coral that has broken off, either due to people manhandling it or natural occurrences, and stick the little pieces back on the coral shelf. They then monitor the site to see how successful they have been, and that requires tagging. They use plastic zip ties to clip plastic cards with a site number on it. Seems kind of counter intuitive to use plastic in such a fragile environment that they are trying to restore, but they do need to monitor.

Divers pick up the fallen pieces, put them in a basket, and wait for results of adaption to their new location.

The preliminary results show an average growth of around one and a half inches a year and in a period of three years they already function as a colony or coral reef; mortality rates are around 20% annually, mainly due to natural causes.