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Coral conservation sees budding growth in Nha Trang

By Bui Toan, Huong Hoai   June 14, 2022 | 05:36 pm PT
Tree corals have grown by 10cm at a Nha Trang conservation site after one year, raising hopes for effective coral restoration in the central beach town.
Coral conservation sees budding growth in Nha Trang

An expert sets up an artificial coral structure at Tien Beach in the Nha Trang Bay conservation site.

Authorities in Khanh Hoa Province, home to Nha Trang, handed over an area of 28 hectares to a private firm last year from growing coral. The five-year project has an investment of VND15 billion ($646,000).

Coral conservation sees budding growth in Nha Trang

The structure comprises of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes built into frameworks over an area of three square kilometers.

Coral conservation sees budding growth in Nha Trang

After a period of incubation, coral buds will be taken out to be cultivated on artificial reefs built with rocks and concrete.

The artificial reefs are placed 4-4.5m under water. The buds in the above photograph are Acropora muricata, a staghorn coral species.

Coral conservation sees budding growth in Nha Trang

These buds are taken from broken branches of tree corals for incubation.

Coral can reproduce both asexually and sexually.

In asexual production, coral reproduces by budding or fragmentation. Through budding, new polyps "bud" off from parent polyps to form new colonies. In fragmentation, an entire colony (rather than just a polyp) branches off to form a new colony.

However, each year, coral will only grow by one to 10 centimeters.

Coral conservation sees budding growth in Nha Trang

Researchers regularly observe and take notes to ensure stability of the incubation garden and the artificial reef.

Coral conservation sees budding growth in Nha Trang

A coral bud on the artificial reef. Nine months after the project was launched, the tree coral buds have grown nearly 10cm.

Coral conservation sees budding growth in Nha Trang

New coral buds grow from the artificial coral structure.

Coral conservation sees budding growth in Nha Trang

A researcher checks some staghorn coral in the incubation stage.

Coral conservation sees budding growth in Nha Trang

An inspection by the management committee of Nha Trang Bay early this year revealed that the Mun Island coral reef has shrunk significantly compared to 2015. The island, about 10 kilometers from the shore, lies within the Nha Trang Bay conservation site spanning 160 square kilometers.

The coral coverage rate to the island's northeast dropped from 54 percent to 32 percent; from more than 50 percent to 11 percent in the southeast and 8 percent in the southwest.

In some areas, the damage is spread over hundreds of square meters.

Experts have blamed the extensive coral damage on climate change and human activities including excessive fishing and invasive tourism projects.

 
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