Monday, September 9, 2013

The 2013 Guam SECORE Project

An exciting new project is beginning on Guam!  The SECORE foundation was recently on Guam conducting a 10-day coral reproduction workshop with participants from all over the world.  SECORE (which stands for SExual COral REprodution) was started in 2002 by Dr. Dirk Petersen in the Netherlands.  Since 2002, SECORE has been established in the U.S. and become one of the leading coral conservation initiatives to involve research scientists, aquarium professionals, and local stakeholders from around the world.  SECORE specializes in the use of sexual coral recruits for reef restoration and conducts  workshops and projects at several research centers and aquariums around the world, and has now completed their first workshop in Guam.  As SECORE expands its collaborator pool, so expands the opportunities for coral reef conservation and restoration, and now Guam is part of these conservation efforts. 

Photo taken by Dave Burdick.
The relationship between Guam and SECORE began when Mike McCue, curator to Under Water World (UWW) aquarium, first heard about SECORE at an aquarium conference.  Seeing the value in getting coral scientists and aquarium professionals to work together towards coral conservation, Mike was able to connect with Dr. Dirk Petersen.  Their friendship grew and after years of discussion, Mike was able to convince Dr. Petersen that Guam would be the perfect location for coral conservation work, resulting in the recent workshop on Guam.  To make the workshop as effective as possible, Mike brought in the UOG Marine Laboratory (UOGML) director, Dr. Laurie Raymundo, and coral biologist and long-term coral reef monitoring coordinator, Mr. Dave Burdick (Bureau of Statistics and Plans – Guam Coastal Management Program), to contribute their local coral expertise and support for this project. 

On July 25th, Australia, the UK, South Africa, the Philippines, and the U.S.  These participants came just in time for coral spawning and they heard lectures, built aquaria, and collected coral larvae over the 10-day workshop period (July 25 – August 4).  Participants observed coral spawning of Acropora humilis, Acropora surculosa, Goniastrea retiformis, Acropora abrotanoides, and Galaxea fascicularis in the ocean.

At the UOG Marine Laboratory, participants were able to witness spawning and collect coral gametes from Acropora humilis and Acropora surculosa (broadcast spawners) and collect coral larvae from Leptastrea purpurea (a brooder).  The gametes that were collected from the spawners were allowed to fertilize and settle onto appropriate substrates in the laboratory.  Over the coming months, the corals will grow in the lab until they have reached an appropriate size which will give them the best odds of survival when transplanted into the ocean.  Along with the corals at the UOGML, there will also be coral growing in tanks at UWW once renovations have been completed (scheduled to be done in the next 6 months).  These facilities at UWW will allow the public to see first-hand how the corals are growing and will also keep them updated on the project.

Some of the other goals of the SECORE project on Guam are:

1) The creation of a small coral nursery in the ocean.  The nursery will provide a place for baby corals to grow in ambient conditions and will also provide insight into the differences between ambient and laboratory conditions and their affect on coral growth and health.

2) To expand its efforts to more species of Acropora corals, specifically those of the staghorn variety.  On Guam large patches of these corals have undergone significant decline over the years.  With the help of the SECORE project, Guam may be able to help these staghorn patches regenerate, restoring patches of reef and ecosystem function. 

The Guam SECORE project is a multiyear coral conservation program focusing on developing new techniques for large-scale coral reef restoration.   As the project continues, look for more/new information on the SECORE website (   You can also contact the local partners in charge of this project: Dr. Laurie Raymundo at the UOG Marine Laboratory, Mr. Mike McCue at UWW, and Mr. Dave Burdick with the Bureau of Statistics and Plans—Guam Coastal Management Program.

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Posted by
Roxanna Miller

7:41 pm
Friday, August 28, 2013
Location: Hagatna, Guam