In the last several decades, the Caribbean has experienced widespread coral reef degradation. However, the work of Fundación Grupo Puntacana and its partners has helped create a “Hope Spot” in the eastern Dominican Republic. In 2016, for example, biologists documented sexual spawning of staghorn corals off the coast of Punta Cana for the first time ever. These corals had been transplanted as part of the Partnership for Ecologically Sustainable Coastal Areas (PESCA), a comprehensive program for the protection and restoration of the region’s coastal areas, which includes the Foundations’ coral restoration program that has spanned over a decade.
To date, the project has transplanted more than three kilometers of coral tissue on the reef in front of Puntacana Resort & Club as part of its efforts to restore the local marine ecosystem. This spawning event is a positive sign of that demonstrated the success of the program. Once restored corals are to reproduce naturally without active restoration techniques, the new corals could form a generation of coral genotypes that are more resistant to climate change. The eventual goal of Fundación Grupo Puntacana’s coral restoration project is to transplant sufficient coral tissue and create improved conditions on the reef, so they reproduce by themselves.
About Coral Gardening
In 2004, in an effort to protect these endangered Caribbean Acropora species, the Foundation paired up with the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and Counterpart International to develop an in-water pilot "Coral Garden" nursery in one of Punta Cana's protected areas. The goal of the Coral Garden is to help reverse degradation using a hands-on approach, preserving existing coral populations by growing them in nurseries. Originally material was collected from existing colonies and then propagated in underwater nurseries on rope and metal frames. Later, as the corals grew, the frames were pruned and the coral fragments out-planted back onto the reef.
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