Since 2018, the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) has been partnering with the Koror State Government (KSG) and Palau Visitors Authority (PVA) on a coral rehabilitation project.
On June 15 and 16, PICRC Aquarist, McGee Mereb and Eveline van der Steeg, a Ph.D. candidate from the CoralAsssist Lab from Newcastle University, joined the Koror State Rangers to plant corals at Ngerchong Inside. They outplanted 240 substrates with coral recruits, in hopes to increase coral cover at the site. Ngerchong Inside was selected as the pilot site as the coral reef was severely damaged during super typhoon Bopha in 2012. A baseline survey conducted in December 2018, found a coral cover of 10% and 44% bare substrate. A high density of coral recruits indicated the reef had started to recover; however, this is a slow process and can take decades. The site was visited just before the outplant. The coral reef has recovered drastically since the baseline survey in 2018 and the coral cover has increased visibly. We are very excited to observe this natural increase of coral cover at a typhoon damaged site. For the coral outplant, a shallow area with less coral cover was chosen.
As the coral rehabilitation project continues to develop and work to implement its proposed plan, PICRC will continue their planned activities with Koror State and PVA to promote community-based environmental awareness programs to educate both residents and visiting guests to Palau. While the work so far has focused on Koror State waters, the process would be similar for other states interested in growing corals, and we hope to expand the project to other states in the near future.