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Cement Floor
Cement Floor



Hard corals are critical for coral reef ecosystem health and structure. They are the reef-building corals, laying down a calcium carbonate skeleton as they grow. A coral reef with high levels of hard coral cover provides good refuge through increased structural complexity for biodiverse fish and invertebrates, as well as physical protection for the coastal communities that depend on them. However the ecosystem services of coral reefs are far more numerous and varying, including tourism, recreation and medicinal properties, possibly providing as much as US$375 billion in goods and services annually.

Alarmingly, a steady decline in global levels of hard coral has been observed in recent years, but perhaps nowhere is this more true than
in the Caribbean where some estimates point to a 98% loss of the two most important hard coral species for the region - Acropora cervicornis and Acropora palmata. Reflecting this, both staghorn coral A. cervicornis and elkhorn coral A. palmata are now listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This global phenomenon of hard coral decline has been attributed to a number of factors including climate change, coral bleaching, overfishing, nutrient runoff and coral disease, with many historical coral reefs shifting to a soft coral-, sponge- or algal-dominated state.

In an effort to faciliate and promote hard coral recovery, a number of coral nursery or coral gardening projects have been established around the world. Following a principle of maintaining corals in ideal growth conditions and conducting husbandry work to reduce the stress of competitors such as algae and coral predators, these projects aim to grow corals before returning them to the reef to achieve the long-term goal of promoting hard coral recovery to historical levels.

ERIC established the Charlotteville Coral Garden in July 2016 as an initial six month pilot study to assess the feasibility and applicability of a number of different propagation methodologies. Working with our team of community field technicians and a visiting postgraduate researcher from University of Trinidad and Tobago, we will monitor parameters such as coral growth rates and health in order to determine the most appropriate method for a coral nursery in local conditions. The long-term goal of the project will then be to continue to carry out coral nursery and reef restoration activities on a larger scale in northeast Tobago.

dive operations and ecological expeditions give visitors the opportunity to get involved with our work, especially for those who are interested to learn with our team and make a tangible contribution to conservation activities in northeast Tobago. For more information about Charlotteville Coral Garden, or to enquire about getting involved, please email

Our coral nursery programme is conducted under a current Research Permit issued by the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment of the Tobago House of Assembly. Visit our 
Permits and Policies page for further information. 

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