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Launch of Coral Restoration Project on the Gili Islands to Protect our Oceans

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GiliAir, LombokInsider.com – Coral restoration efforts are becoming increasingly important,
as more knowledge is constantly revealed about the coral reefs and the
increasing threat of coral bleaching brought along by global warming. Coral
reefs have suffered significant impacts over recent years as a result of the
impact of human and natural disturbances on their biodiversity and ecosystem
functioning.

These ecosystems are fragile and sensitive to changes in their
environment and are at greater risk of degradation than other marine systems.
With a significant decline in the health and fitness of the coral reefs around
the world, it is now considered to be a crisis at a global scale.

“Through research, we have been able to estimate that over 50%
of the corals around the Gili Islands have been lost. The Gili Islands is an
important location for a coral restoration project because of its touristic
attraction. We don’t only have the chance to recover some of the pristine coral
reefs, but also to spread awareness about the importance of coral reefs and be
role models in the field,” Andre Saputra, Lead Scientist at Gili Shark
Conservation.

Scientific Evidence That It Works

Coral restoration has shown promising results around the world,
with the closest example being the coral restoration project of Blue Corner
Dive Center in Nusa Lembongan in Bali. The method called coral micro
fragmentation has been successful there and has now begun in the Gili Matra
Marine Recreational Reserve (GMMRR).

The Project So Far

Gili Shark Conservation’s project mission is to restore coral
reefs around the Gili Islands in Indonesia, to educate others on the importance
of our oceans, and to use science to further coral research and coral reef
monitoring techniques.

The project has comprised of multiple stages so far. The initial
stages of the project entailed building the hex domes. These were constructed
with locals, created out of iron bars. Then, the domes were coated with sand
and epoxy to make a comfortable new home for coral to live and grow on. Through
this process, locals were educated about the project. Once prepared, the hex
domes were dropped into the ocean. The restoration sites were selected by Gili
Shark Conservation due to their importance as a nursery for Blacktip reef
sharks and as home to a diverse and abundant range of fish species, according
to RUV (roving underwater video) footage.

They are very rich reefs and a perfect place for coral to grow
(good water circulation etc). The restoration site was damaged and the goal is
to restore it to its initial condition. Once in place, the qualified scuba
divers started ‘coral gardening’. First, they harvested corals, by collecting
lots of broken coral. Then the corals were fragmented, taken to the restoration
site, and attached to the hex domes. Some domes have one species of coral
attached and some have two, as an experiment to see if they will grow quicker
due to competition for space. The sites are under scientific monitoring to
establish the success of the project as it continues.

The International SeaKeepers Society Asia Achievement Award

In April, the Gili Shark Conservation Project was awarded The
International SeaKeepers Society Asia Achievement Award, which recognizes an
organization in Asia that demonstrates a responsibility towards the health of
Asia’s marine environment. As part of the award, The International SeaKeepers
Society committed to funding the first 30 hex dome structures of the coral
restoration project of the Gili Shark Conservation Project.

The award has provided the Gili Shark Conservation project with
an amazing opportunity to help restore damaged reefs which are extremely
important to a range of marine life. This is a wonderful example of different
organizations from all corners of the globe working together to achieve
something good, and something bigger than the sum of each of the individual
parts.

About the Gili Shark Conservation Project

The Gili Shark Conservation project was founded in 2015 by three
ocean lovers who met each other on the beautiful island of Gili Air, Lombok,
Indonesia. When we started our project, we didn’t have all the knowledge
neither did we have years of experience. All we had was an intention, a lot of
energy and the desire to be part of the solution.

“We didn’t want to stand on the sidelines anymore and watch how
other people try to solve a problem which we are all responsible for.” Rose –
Co-Founder at the Gili Shark Conservation Project.

Every day our research team goes out to collect abundance data within the zones of the Gili Matra Marine Recreational reserve to assess the health of the environment and act to enhance marine protection and health where necessary. Our mission is to promote conversation efforts through education and research. To achieve our goal we conduct research using multiple research methods including; underwater remote video surveillance, roving survey dives, photographic identification, coral health index surveys, and land and marine-based time-laps projects. (LI)

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