Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire Expands the Capacity of the Coral Farms 

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Reef Renewal foundation Bonaire (RRFB) is expanding its network of coral nurseries and restoration locations around Bonaire and Klein Bonaire. This is partly made possible with the help of financing from the National Government and the Bonaire municipal government for the implementation of nature and environmental initiatives. After testing a new nursery design in 2023, RRFB has established several new nursery sites along the West Coast, with more plans for further expansion in 2024. 

In the first months of the project, RRFB has already increased its coral nursery capacity by more than 20%, using corals from genetic lines that have shown resilience to stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) and recent bleaching events. This is part of their broader strategy to increase the genetic diversity of Bonaire's coral populations and thus strengthen the reef. 

Diver Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire
Photo: RFF Bonaire

“The process of expanding our nurseries will include both branching and non-branching corals, with a total of 10 different species. We are focusing on propagating species more severely affected by SCTLD, whose populations have become a high priority for our recovery efforts. ” – Francesca Virdis | Managing Director, Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire 

New Nursery Design 

The installation of vertical ropes, a new type of coral nursery, is part of the expansion. Rope farms, consisting of more than 70 corals strung by a single rope, are less prone to algae overgrowth and other forms of biofouling. Parental corals are never removed from the ropes, allowing for faster replenishment after fragments are planted out. RRFB has already installed rope farms at Oil Slick Leap, Lighthouse Point and Angel City, and plans to set up more sites by 2024. Multiple tray farms have also been installed, which include growing several species of stony coral affected by SCTLD. 

Diver Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire
Photo: RFF Bonaire

Selective Reproduction and Genetic Diversity 

Nurseries will contain 10 species of branching and non-branching corals from different genetic strains (also called “genotypes”). RRFB has carefully selected genotypes that have shown the best performance after outplanting and have shown resilience to bleaching events and SCTLD. They will continue to monitor the health of these corals before and after outplanting to strengthen selective breeding efforts. Throughout the 2024 expansion, RRFB's focus remains firmly on strengthening the genetic diversity and resilience of Bonaire's coral reefs. 

Diver Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire
Photo: RFF Bonaire

About RRFB 

Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire is a non-profit organization focused on protecting and restoring Bonaire's biodiverse coral reefs. In collaboration with research partners and regional practitioners, RRFB implements innovative, science-based programs that help expand and strengthen important coral populations in Bonaire. With the help of 14 partner dive operations and a team of dedicated volunteers, the Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire has already returned more than 55,000 corals to the reef. 

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