Coral Restoration, Aitutaki, Cook Islands
In 2007, Steve Lindsay published procedures for preparing live coral fragments for “planting” on lagoon habitats. For 5 weeks in 2015, I introduced the procedure as hands-on citizen-based science to Aitutaki school children and tourists visiting the Aitutaki Marine Research Centre (AMRC). Once coral fragments were prepared, participants had their picture taken while placing the prepared corals directly onto lagoon habitats.
In addition to engaging children in lagoon education and stewardship, there was a five-fold increase in visitors to AMRC, and twelve-fold increase in financial donations. The programme was enthusiastically supported by local government and business owners, and covered by international media. By the end of this trial project, dozens of new coral starts were part of an enhanced marine ecosystem. Plans are underway for the next generation of this initiative.