Coral reefs in their biodiversity and their value to our planet’s overall health are often compared to rainforests. But coral is, in fact, an animal that is related to jellyfish and anemones. Coral reefs are the structures formed by hard corals that secrete calcium carbonate. It’s the soft corals that often look like trees, bushes, fans, whips, and grasses. And we're all about them.
The crucially important ecosystems of reefs are being threatened by human activities including pollution, unsustainable fishing practices, and global climate change. Fortunately, there are things people are doing to help. For example, there are hundreds of coral propagation efforts around the world, including three on Outrigger Resort properties.
OZONE or Outrigger’s ZONE is our conservation initiative to encourage practices and provide experiences which protect our oceans and coral reef and help them to thrive for generations to come. Since the OZONE initiative was founded in 2014, we have been able to preserve, protect, and plant over 100 football fields of coral. We have coral planting programs run by local marine biologists at Castaway Island Fiji and Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort. Our Mauritius Beach Resort property has vast coral reefs that it studies and protects. Guests are invited to participate and support these efforts.
Because of the way hard coral reproduces and heals, small pieces can grow to eventually become mature colonies. By securing these fragments in good growing conditions using cable ties, plaster or underwater glue, scientists can support their regrowth. At our properties, they first observe the coral’s growth in tanks and then transplant them onto growing racks in the ocean where they monitor and measure their progress.
Fortunately, coral reefs have also been found to be quite resilient, and that as stresses subside, they recover. So even with the unusually high temperatures from El Nino and increased storms, Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort has been able to protect and grow more coral than they are losing.
Some coral grows at roughly the rate of human hair (10 cm per year), while other hard corals grow even slower at 2 cm per year. This means that growing and planting coral is a long-term process. We all can support corals and ocean health by reducing our carbon footprints, how much garbage we produce, opting for reef-friendly sunscreen, and choosing to eat sustainably harvested seafood.
If you've got more coral-saving questions, send it our way on Facebook or learn more about Outrigger's Zone, Outrigger's reef conservancy program here.
Still celebrating World Oceans Day? Us, too! We're making a whole month of it on social media throughout June. #we🧡ourcoralreefs