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Coral Vita aims to grow corals up to fifty times faster than in nature through land-based farms


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    From the article: [...] [...] [...] [...]

    From the article:

    Coral Vita — which has raised more than $4 million in funding from a roster of investors including Sustainable Ocean Alliance, Apollo Projects and Builders Initiative — planted their corals for the first time earlier this year. The company has grown its team to more than a dozen people, with plans to expand further.


    Typically, pieces of coral are grown in underwater nurseries before being planted on reefs — a common process that is low cost, doesn’t require complex technology and keeps the corals in their natural environment. Coral pieces are typically hung like ornaments from treelike structures made of PVC pipes before being transplanted back onto reefs or used as stock to grow more corals. But these corals are often vulnerable to the elements, as well as disease and predation, says Jessica Ward, the U.S. Virgin Islands coral manager at the Nature Conservancy.

    Land-based nurseries — such as the Coral Vita farm, where corals are nurtured in tanks before being planted onto reefs — are becoming more common.


    The bits of coral growing in the tanks at Coral Vita’s farm are the product of microfragmentation, where cutting larger chunks of coral into small pieces stimulates growth in the same way human skin heals from a wound. Marine biologist David E. Vaughan, who is credited with discovering the method, says it is “a game changer for corals.”

    In just a couple of years, microfragments cut from the same coral that are planted onto reefs can eventually fuse together to become a head of coral, a process that would take anywhere from 25 to 100 years to happen naturally, says Vaughan, who consulted for Coral Vita during its earlier years but no longer has financial ties to the operation.


    While Teicher says that grants and awards have made up a “larger chunk” of the company’s revenue streams, Coral Vita signed its first restoration contracts with the Bahamian government and the Grand Bahama Port Authority in 2021. Though the payment amounts are “not that large,” he says that “for any island nation government to commit funds to something like coral reef restoration is amazing.”

    The company has also been able to generate revenue through other sources. For instance, paying visitors can take an educational tour of the farm. Coral Vita also has an adopt-a-coral program, through which individuals and corporations can sponsor anything from small fragments to entire tanks. Last year, Teicher says, the coral adoption program brought in more than $60,000.


    It also remains to be seen if a for-profit approach such as Coral Vita’s can have its intended large-scale impact on the reef, says Vaughan, who now heads the nonprofit Plant A Million Corals Foundation, which he founded.

    A farm operation that may have, at minimum, about a couple million dollars in start-up costs and plants fewer than 5,000 to 10,000 corals a year “isn’t the economic scale that we need to get this to,” Vaughan says, adding that hundreds of thousands of operations “costing couple of dollars a coral” will be required.

    1. rosco
      Link Parent
      I know Sam pretty well and really like the majority of the Coral Vita team. There is a pretty hot debate in the field about putting resources behind initiatives like this and the viability of...

      I know Sam pretty well and really like the majority of the Coral Vita team. There is a pretty hot debate in the field about putting resources behind initiatives like this and the viability of coral restoration in general.

      I think the big argument against site specific restoration is that impact tends to be low, costs are high, and the new growth is still under threat from bleaching events. The usual messaging is "take that money and put it towards lobbying for emissions reductions and carbon caps". I attended a talk by Hugh Possingham when he was still the chief scientist for The Nature Conservancy and he fell very solidly into this camp. Which is interesting considering TNC's projects in coral restoration or even the sunflower starfish restoration projects here in California. (If you haven't had a chance to read up on the seastar wasting disease and it's impacts they are equally interesting.)

      What I am super interested to see is what Coral Vita can pull off with heat resistant corals, effectively GMOing the ocean. In a lot of areas we're at the point where we need to start implementing these types of programs as local corals are just gone. I would love to see what kind of resistance and diversity the Coral Vita team could seed in coral barrens. Honestly though, it's difficult to imagine much impact with such limited funds. I'm really hoping governments/municipalities/hotels start identifying the economic benefits and ecosystem services of corals. These guys need contracts!

      4 votes