In 2015, I participated in a Reef Restoration Island as a part of a volunteer project with Volunteer Eco Students Abroad (VESA) in Fiji.

Coral Cookies on Metal Wreck

We essentially “farmed” coral, not for profit, but to ensure the long-term sustainability of the reef system. The reef was declining for a number of reasons. This includes commercial fishing, tourism, Crown of Thorn Starfish and increase in ocean temperatures (triggering bleaching). I witnessed snorkeling tourists stand on the reef, causing the coral to break (and die). It is important to protect the reef as Fiji coral reefs are essential for their food, income generation and tourism.

 We utilized two coral farming techniques.

The first technique involved cutting and sanding PVC pipe into tiny cookie cutter shapes. Next, we filled the circles with cement, poked holes and waited it for set.

Next, we snorkeled out to existing “coral wrecks” off the island.  Coral wrecks are cages where growing coral are kept. We gathered hard coral cuts for the coral cookies. You had to be quick, because coral is a living organism (so can die quickly).

Reef Restoration VESA Project, Fiji Samantha Brajdic

Next, we placed puttie in the coral cookies, and attacked the coral cut into the centre of the cookie. The coral was constantly soaked in coral so they wouldn’t die or become too stressed. We then attacked the coral cuts to our metal wreck with cable ties.

Later, we took our metal wreck out to a larger wreck off the island and tied it securely.

New Coral Wreck

The second method of coral restoration involved a pair of cutters, a snorkel, nails and a rock. We swam out to the coral wreck of the island, and got more cuts of hard coral. We found rocks and hammered the coral into the rocky sections of the ocean.

Hope you enjoyed!

Photos shot on GoPro Hero


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