Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Day 3; Transplanting Corals at Cayo Ron

Another happy group of volunteers!
This past Saturday a large group of volunteers joined myself and Paco and Carlos of Monaquatics to participate in the chapters' coral reef restoration project titled "Coral Reef Protection through Marine Debris Removal in two Marine Protected Areas (MPAs); Arrecifes de Tourmaline and Reserva Marina Tres Palmas.  The goal of Saturday's adventure was to survey, mark, and position additional debris to be removed off the reef and transplant corals off of the large boat hull.  This group of volunteers including Hector Ruiz and Antonio Ortiz completed the tasks at hand.  The chapter would like to thank Paco and Carlos from Monaquatics for providing 6 tanks of air, Surf 787 for providing 2 soft-tops and a kayak, and Hector and Antonio of Reefscaping for their contribution of pre-mixed cement and other supplies to properly transplant the corals.  Thanks!!  Below are photos from the Saturday's activities including the first one of the fourth coral transplant taken from the boat hull.     

Coral #4 Porites astreoides (common name = Mustard hill coral) documented after it was adhered to suitable substrate just meters from where it was removed from the hull.  In total, 36 corals were transplanted off the hull composed of 3 other species commonly known as brain coral, star coral, and finger coral.  Their progress will be monitored for a year.  The black and gray deviations on the board are 5 cm apart (Photo W.Merten).
Below is a figure of the placement of 29 of the 36 transplanted corals in roughly identical habitat (i.e. depth, light, wave activity, temperature) as where they were removed, besides the type of substrate.  This figure is based off of in situ (in the field) measurements with a measuring tape and meter stick.    

Above is a diagram of an estimate of the placement of 29 of the 36 transplanted corals at Cayo Ron on Saturday.  The sequential placement of each coral was measured in situ in meters to reveal the transplant line.  The substrate where the corals were placed is classified as colonized pavement and linear reef according to NOS habitat maps.  There are 4 more corals that will be transplanted off the rudder and added to this line soon (Fig. W.Merten). 

Below is a figure of the second largest piece of boat debris that we will be cutting into more manageable pieces to be lifted off the reef on our 4th field day (TBA).  Although this is the second largest piece (~ 6 sq. meters) of debris we will be removing off the reef, it is only 10% the size of the hull!  However, it still has a fully functioning rudder that swivels!

Above is a diagram of the rudder.  The numbers correspond to the corals that we will be transplanting from the hull to nearby location.  There is also a large soft coral (not shown) in the middle of the upper panel that we will be transplanting as well.  The size of the rudder (~6 sq. m) was estimated by subtracting the unoccupied space the rudder filled from the area of a 6 x 9 m grid positioned on the substrate during the survey.  The rudder is denoted by dotted lines coming from it's location on the lower panel.  It is 1 meter in length and .6 meters tall (Fig. W.Merten).

Below are the survey tracks after the first 3 field days at Cayo Ron. 

Above is a diagram of all the survey tracks the volunteers have conducted during the search and recovery of the marine debris in Cayo Ron's northern back reef.  From the surveys and recovery of the debris it is postulated that not one but two boats ran aground here (Fig. W.Merten).

Below is all the debris located during the first 3 days of work at Cayo Ron. 

Above is a diagram of all the debris the volunteers have marked and documented over the past three outings.  The symbols correspond to the type of debris we discovered group by category and denoted in the legend.  Additionally, the hull and rudder polygons were placed where they occur on the reef.  *Note:  The size of the symbols and objects are not to scale.  However, the distance between one and another is (Fig. W.Merten).

The next field day will consist of cutting the boat hull and rudder into more manageable pieces to be taken back to land and deposited in a proper landfill.  This date has yet to be determined but if you are interested in helping out please feel free to contact me.

Contact Info:
Wessley Merten

Email:  wessley.merten@upr.edu
P:  787-436-8300