Original environment rehabilitation manual 3.369

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This article describes the terminology used in coral reef rehabilitation projects

Terminology list[edit | edit source]

Acropora: A genus of fast growing hard corals that require the highest level of quality standards to be successfully planted. Includes threatened Elkhorn and Staghorn coral in the Caribbean. The Pacific contains a wide variety of Acropora species including the spectacular tabletop corals. They are one of the most desirable corals for propagation and planting due to rapid growth characteristics and classic “reef look” but usually are one of the most sensitive to poor water quality. There are notable exceptions such as Acropora arabensis, in the Arabian Gulf , that can handle variable sedimentation and turbidity and a wide range of temperatures.

Adva Flow: Brand name of a high range water reducer and plasticizer. Manufactured by W. R. Grace and Company [1] and added to cement to make it more liquid without adding water because too much water makes concrete weak. This admixture is required in the plug cement so that the concrete forms a perfect seal around the coral fragment to prevent bottom to top infections and dislodging of the fragment. It is also used in artificial reef module construction to help improve the pH and other concrete characteristics.

Antibacterial Soap: RBF Coral Team participants must wash their hands between each unique coral colony they touch with an antibacterial soap. However, not all sites have fresh water facilities to get a clean rinse so team members often use surgery rated products that offer a clean rinse. An example is LAGASSE, INC.’s “Antibacterial Lotion Soap” which contains 0.3% Chloroxylenol (PCMX), a broad-spectrum degerming agent and offers gentle cleansing with a clean rinse. Alcohol-based or waterless hand cleaners can also be used, but they don’t work well to remove some coral slimes, particularly oily type slimes. Generally they can be used between handling different colonies of the same species but it is best to use a soap based product when changing species types.

Antiseptic Dip (aka RBF Coral Antiseptic Dip): To reduce rapid tissue necrosis and other bacterial infections that can occur due to the fragging wound, hard coral specimens or fragments are dipped in an iodine based antiseptic solution immediately before being placed into coral plugs. RBF uses veterinary strength iodine commonly referred to as “Lugol’s solution” and we repack this into user quantities and provide it to clients as “RBF Antiseptic Dip”in our coral kits. It is possible to use over the counter strengths but the amount of iodine needed may change the salinity of the dip, which must then be adjusted with artificial sea salt (available at any marine aquarium store) to match ambient seawater. Doing so will require a hydrometer or refractometer. Do not use fresh water to mix RBF Antiseptic Dip or any other iodine solution for coral. RBF Antiseptic Dip must be diluted using fresh seawater (or if possible, freshly made artificial sea water adjusted to the exact salinity of the sea where you are working, which has a longer working life). The standard dilution rate is 25ml iodine per liter of water (1 teaspoon per 8 ounces), although the solution can be made slightly weaker for slow growing corals such as brain or star corals, and slightly stronger for fast growing corals such as branching or finger corals. Additionally the dip solution must be kept at the same temperature as the sea, and it may need to be buffered to the same pH as the natural seawater, especially if maintained longer than an hour or two. For this reason, if resources permit, it is best to discard and replace the antiseptic dip frequently. If the fragment has been handled properly and the only injury is the fragmentation cut, then only that part of the coral fragment needs to be exposed to the dip, however if other injury is suspected, dip the whole fragment. Dipping time should be about 1 second to allow the iodine to penetrate into the coral skeleton. Proper treatment will stain the white skeleton to a slightly yellow color. If a yellow color does not show up after dipping, it is possible the coral have been over handled and the protective slime coating from handling has migrated over the exposed skeleton. If this is observed, advise all coral handlers to reduce the coral stress levels before proceeding. Ideally, coral should be exposed to air only one time during the entire process (when they are set into the rapid setting coral plug cement). Often, over-slimed coral can be traced to careless fragmenting, a procedure that must be carried out delicately to reduce coral stress. Note 1: Fire coral (Millepora spp.) and soft coral species should not be dipped in iodine solutions. To test compatibility with iodine solutions, create one set of test plugs dipped and a second set without dipping and monitor the results. Ill effects from iodine usually appear within 72 hours. Many coral propagation tables have been run successfully without antiseptic dips. If your procedures are very consistent and rapid tissue necrosis (RTN) is not showing up in your plugs, it is perfectly acceptable to skip this treatment. (Except for Acropora spp. where a dip should always be performed). Note 2: There are a variety of commercial antiseptic dips available to the marine aquarium trade. Presumably these are safe, and possibly effective but some of these products that are so diluted as to require long dipping times which are not practical for coral propagation table activities, and will overly stress fragmented coral. If used, follow the instructions from the manufacturer exactly. Do not use iodine solutions that also contain soap or detergents. Note 3: The Coral Team has experimented with some antibiotics (amoxcillin, ceprofloxin and erythromycin), and in our tests they seemed to cause more harm than good. While this technique may in the future, be refined to the point where it is safe and effective, at this point we don’t recommend antibiotic treatments for coral. Note 4: There is recent science on microbial-coral interactions and new insights may help researchers to understand why the iodine solution is beneficial during coral fragmentation see "Microbial landscape on the outer tissue surfaces of the reef-building coral”, Johnston and Rohwer 2007"

Aquascaping: The act of adding various members of the fouling community to a new base substrate with the objective of making it look more natural. Aquascaping can include coral, algae, sponges, attachment of live rock, anemones, etc. At the most sophisticated levels, it may include addition of particular species to benefit the development of the coral reef community such as adding sea urchins (Diadema antillarum or Echinoidea spp.). The term aquascaping was originally used in reference to aquarists arranging rocks and corals in marine reef aquariums and is applied here to base substrate enhancement. Many Coral Teams will send in specific aquascaping teams after all coral have been planted to provide the finishing touch to the rehabilitation process when aesthetics are an important project goal.

When properly planted, a propagated coral colony will invest much of its energy for the first few weeks to months in the process of basing- establishing a strong reattachment point by redistributing calcium carbonate to its base

Base or Basing: Certain coral species (referred to as “basing coral”) have a special ‘survival mode’ when injured or dislodged from the substrate. This mode directs all the energy of the colony to downward growth and re-attachment to the reef substrate. This means the coral will abandon upward growth and will actually remove calcium from its skeleton to redeposit it at the base to re-attach itself to the substrate. In time lapse photography, a fragment will appear to melt into the substrate losing height but gaining a foothold. The process can take place very quickly…usually within 6 weeks and the process can be seen in some species in as little as 24 hours. After basing, many corals will go into a brief rest mode before resuming upward growth. It is extremely important to encourage this process when planting fragments. If a good foothold is not developed immediately after propagation, the entire colony can break off in a storm, or even under the force of its own weight. Proper basing allows a colony to develop its own attachment to the artificial reef substrate. This means the colony does not have to rely on the coral epoxy putty to hold it. Note: When working with non-basing coral, the attachment method must be strong enough to hold the adult coral colony permanently because the coral will not be able to further attach itself to the reef as it grows.

Basing coral species such as Acropora cervicornis (shown) should be planted horizontally, not vertically, in order to provide the largest surface area for basing.

Encouragement of basing is accomplished in several ways. When planting into the fast setting plug cement, the cement will injure the colony at the base, which will stimulate basing formation (see image 1). Additionally, providing fresh artificial substrate without a competing fouling community further promotes basing. When placing a basing type coral into the plug mold, it is important that the fragment is placed sideways, not upright as one would intuitively think. This helps to provide a larger contact area for basing and helps to signal the colony that it has been dislodged and needs to go into basing mode. This is one of the biggest errors we have seen in coral planting projects because: 1) Basing is not an issue in marine aquariums because colonies do not grow large enough or exposed to storm wave conditions, 2) Field work is often not monitored long enough to reveal this issue. (It took over 4 years of monitoring in Curacao before we could see the results of improper basing).

Battery Cleaning Brush or Plug Hole Wire Brush: A small wire brush used to clean the inside of a coral adapter plug hole if the artificial reef module has been deployed more than a few days before planting a plug.

Beer’s Law: A mathematical formula relating the amount of light at depth to the light at the surface by means of an exponential decay. This formula, combined with a secchi disk reading, can generate an approximation of the amount of light reaching a given depth, if a surface light meter is available, or the fraction of surface light reaching a given depth if no light meter is available. “In essence...Beer's Law...states that there is a logarithmic dependence between the transmission of light through a substance and the concentration of the substance, and also between the transmission and the length of material that the light travels through.” (Source:Wikipedia). Calculation formula can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beer-Lambert_law]

Biological Bottleneck: Many ecosystems cannot reach their full biological carrying capacity because survival of one or more important species is reduced at a critical point in the organism’s life cycle. Compare the population of a species of fish to water flowing through a pipe with several valves representing survival through each stage of the life cycle. In order for the water to flow at full speed, all of the valves must be open. If one valve closes halfway, the flow at subsequent stages will be reduced, even if those valves are open. Similarly, a shortage of juvenile fish habitat may limit the number of adult reef fish even if there is enough food and habitat to support a larger number of adults. For this reason, damage to shallow water reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove estuaries, areas critical to the development of many reef fish species, can prevent even ‘healthy’ coral reefs from reaching their full potential. This is a complex subject, and the focus of much scientific research, but it is important to understand that rehabilitation efforts should be focused to aid in bottleneck elimination if possible, to greatly magnify the positive effects of project resources.

Black Light: Black light, a combination of blue and UV frequencies, can be used to detect coral phosphorescence, which can help to identify a coral species or detect newly settled coral that are not obvious to the naked eye. This is the same black light used to make posters glow or to show urine or blood stains on carpets/crime scenes.

A bolt cutters

Bolt Cutters: Bolt cutters are used to fragment thick coral such as elkhorn or pillar coral, and for extracting propagation ‘tears’ from brain coral.

‘Bone Breaker’ shears are a common fragmentation tool for medium to thin corals such as branching or finger corals.

Bone Breaker : A tool used by surgeons to cut bone during surgery that is used in the fragging process. It is particularly well adapted to the thicker trunks of finger coral.

Broodstock: In aquaculture, a broodstock is a group of sexually mature individuals of a species kept separately and used for breeding purposes. For the Coral Team, we define it more loosely to refer both to the imperiled coral that we intend on rescuing and the cache of imperiled coral in the fragmentation nursery waiting to be processed and replanted.

Adult copepod

Copepods: Tiny marine crustaceans, found in high abundance throughout all of the world’s seas and oceans. Copepods are a type of zooplankton and represent a critical stage in the marine food web.

A Coral Core Plug of Montastrea cavernosa transplanted into artificial base substrate. From left to right: immediately, three, and six months post transplant.

Coral Core Plugs: Coral fragments made by removing a core from a colony with a hollow drill bit. Coral Core Plugs are designed for direct planting into a coral plug hole. This method is typically used for massive corals including star and boulder corals. This is an advanced technique and not normally used in grassroots projects. Results have been mixed depending on coral species (Spieler/Quinn, 2003, Memphis Project)

Coral Disaster Response Kit: A set of all the molds, tools, equipment and non-perishable supplies required to rapidly mobilize a trained Coral Team on a rescue project in response to coral damage.

Coral Diseases: There are a number of specialized websites that provide information on [coral diseases and bleaching Coral Team participants should familiarize themselves with all common diseases and bleaching from a visual identification perspective. Simply stated, grassroots efforts should not attempt to touch or work with diseased coral in any way. Treatment for coral disease requires exact identification of the pathogen and specialized treatment knowledge. However, it is usually easy to visually distinguish between a healthy and a diseased colony. Any sign of stress, such as bleaching, means that fragmentation success is less likely and any sign of disease could mean fragmentation procedures could contaminate additional coral. Although many divers are tempted to “help” a diseased coral…they will likely do more harm than good in trying.

Coral Epoxy Putty: See epoxy putty

Coral Genetics: Propagation is a form of asexual reproduction or “genetic cloning.” Because propagation creates genetically identical colonies, it presents unique opportunities for coral reef rehabilitation efforts. For example, when a disaster leaves thousands of adult colonies in peril, taking and replanting just a few fragments from each adult colony can preserve the coral genetics of the entire imperiled coral reef. Other unique opportunities include cloning of coral colonies that appear to have a better resistance to heat stress, sedimentation, disease, predators or other threats. The cloning of these resistant colonies might be an important future tool to improve coral adaptability. Additionally, it is now possible to use propagation technology to create genetic coral banks; reserves of propagated coral maintained in an area apart from the original reef so that if disaster strikes, a replanting could take place using coral genetically identical to the lost coral, in a similar fashion to human blood banks. It is becoming increasingly clear that coral reefs will have to face changes in their environments. It is unclear if they can adapt genetically fast enough to cope. However, we believe that science might find a way to identify coral colonies with traits that will allow them to survive. Propagation offers technology to multiply such individual coral quickly. Propagation and planting has another significant advantage for reef rehabilitation in that specific corals can be positioned where they will be more likely to have reproductive success. Success can be increased both by increasing the number of viable coral spawn, and by rehabilitating corals in locations most likely to transport larval coral to areas suitable for settlement and growth. The Reef Ball Foundation is constantly adapting its methods and procedures as coral scientists formulate new research results to help achieve these goals.

Corallivorous: Referring to a functional group of predators who feed primarily or exclusively on corals. While a certain amount of coral predation is natural, coral predators pose particular risk to freshly transplanted corals, and as such, steps should be taken to minimize their impact on a coral planting project.

Coral Mass Spawn: See Mass Spawn

Coral Plug Adapter: A standardized size device placed into the artificial base substrate mold which can be removed after casting, and leaves behind a depression referred to as a Coral Plug Hole which is the size and shape to receive standardized Coral Plugs- small discs of cement with a coral colony attached. The standardized size is created with #8 sized rubber stoppers both set into the side of the artificial reef module molds and/or placed on the top of poured base substrates while the concrete is still wet. #8 rubber stoppers create a hole size that fits into coral plugs molded from widely available 30 ml plastic medicine cups. Note: Do not use marine aquarium fragment plugs (available from aquarium industry aquaculturalists) if they have ever been placed in captivity (an aquarium) for wild plantings (planting in the ocean). This is due to the possible introduction of invasive species or disease. Captive breed corals are equally unsuitable for wild planting.

Coral Plug Holes made from coral plug adapters on the sides and tops of Reef Balls awaiting deployment.

Coral Plug Hole: Any hole drilled or created into the base substrate for the purpose of attaching of a coral fragment or colony by means of a Coral Plug or direct fragment planting . These range from pencil or smaller sized holes for soft corals attached with coral epoxy putty, to medicine cup sized indentions for standardized coral fragment plugs or even larger holes for direct coral core plugs. Custom sized plug receptacles are used for specific situations and coral types.

Coral Plug Mold: A mold or form from which coral plugs can be cast with 30 second quick setting cement. RBF uses standard 30 ml sized medicine cups with a small hole punched or drilled in the bottom (to prevent a vacuum when demolding the plug from the mold), 1/3rd full of sand to make the coral plug fit exactly into the coral plug adapter hole.

Infestation of coral colony by corallivorous nudibranch. (Source: Walch/Barber, 2000, Malaysia Coral Aquaculture Project)
Corallivorous nudibranch (Source: Walch/Barber, 2000, Malaysia Coral Aquaculture Project)
Flamingo Tongue (Cyphoma gibbosum) on sea fan
Crown of Thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci). This sea star is a voracious coral predator, and is one of few organisms that RBF condones destroying if present on a rehabilitation site.
Some species of sea stars such as cushion stars and other sea stars can prey on coral. If present, we recommend moving these species away from the project rehabilitation site, but do not generally condone their destruction.

Coral Predators: A major threat to the health of propagated or transplanted corals during the first 90 days after planting is death or stress from coral predators. After transplanting, corals are stressed and weak. This makes them more susceptible to predation, and furthermore, the presence of predators can cause corals to stress further, and even die without necessarily being directly consumed. For this reason, it is particularly important to plant corals on fresh substrate to reduce the impact of coral predators and give the newly transplanted corals time to stabilize before having to compete. New substrate does not offer a mature fouling community offering them a place to shelter so coral preditors cannot easily move across the smooth new surfaces of fresh base substrate without encountering predators of their own. Some examples of coral predators include parrot fish, crown-of-thorn starfish, corallivorous nudibranchs, corallivorous snails, corallivorous crustaceans (like Acropora red bugs) and corallivorous worms such as fireworms.

There are several defensive strategies to reduce threats:

  1. 1 Plant coral on newly laid artificial reef substrate, or freshly exposed hard bottom. This will help to eliminate nudibranchs, snails, crustaceans and worms present in the fouling community and will deter movements of crown-of-thorns looking for dense coral cover.
  2. 2 Process fragments as rapidly as possible to reduce stress. Reef Ball Foundation no longer usespropagation methods in holding tanks and now uses open water based processing techniques to allow coral to be rescued and replanted within a few hours and to eliminate the stress of captivity. Our monitoring indicated this was a major factor in decreasing coral fragment mortality in sensitive species.
  3. 3 While we do not recommend manipulation of an ecosystem for the sole purpose of increasing the

survival rate of propagated corals, we do recommend that if crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) which are present near your planting site, they be destroyed by injection with sodium bisulphate (also called Dry Acid). We recommend this method because it is biodegradable and does not affect other plants and animals on the reef and there is evidence that Crown of Thorn populations have increased in the wild because of human activities. The chemical is applied by direct injection into the central tissues of the crown-of-thorns starfish. Try to eliminate all starfish within 100 meters of your project area. Use a long hypodermic needle because the spines of crown-of-thorn starfish are extremely painful if you bump into them. Note: The RBF board of directors debated extensively on this topic after carefully reviewing literature and recommendations from Australian scientists and managers. We arrived at the policy we have chosen based on the likelihood that human impact on marine systems has dramatically increased the abundance of A. planci, and if left unchecked, A. planci poses a significant threat to coral reefs. If you feel strongly against the destruction of these animals, relocation is an option, but use extreme caution because their spines can cause a painful injury. Some cushion stars and sea stars may also prey on coral fragments. These just need to be relocated to other areas (spread them out) and not killed since they rarely get to high population levels, unlike crown-of-thorns starfish.

Parrot fish may nip, but usually do not wipe out fragments that have been handled stress free. If parrot fish populations are very high it is possible to build a temporary protective cage out of chicken wire. We rarely use this technique except for certain very delicate Acropora species, particularly high color varieties in the Pacific. In this case make sure to remove the protective cage once the coral’s base has completely formed and upward growth has resumed.

Beach based coral table (available in Sketch-Up™). Table must be underwater to the point where the coral planting tray is under water at all times, and protected from heavy surge. Umbrellas shade the entire table from sunlight. Coral table workers from left to right, ‘wet hands’ (kneeling), table boss (behind table), dry hands.
Floating coral table. Floating tables are ideal for use in most low energy locations, are more comfortable for the table workers, and automatically adjust for factors such as tides. If resources and conditions permit, consider the construction of a floating table.

Coral Propagation Table: RBF uses two types of coral propagation tables depending on the situation; a beach-based table (first image) or floating platform (second image) is used for fragging, plugging and plug curing. A complete 3-D engineering plan can be obtained without cost by downloading Google’s free Sketch-Up™utility. For both designs, an umbrella or tarp is necessary to shield coral fragments (and Coral Team members!!) from sunburn. Careful attention should be made to ensure that the table is stable in waves. We have made a wide variety of variations of the coral propagation table to accommodate individual project needs. It is important to consider the number of coral propagations you plan to accomplish, the conditions at the work site, and the number of people that will be working before designing your table. A good table increases the comfort level for team members and makes higher volume production easier, but it can take longer to build and is usually more expensive. A small table workspace can be made just about anywhere, but may be uncomfortable and slow for production. If you are just demonstrating the technology for a school, that might be sufficient. If you plan to do tens of thousand of plugs, make the table as comfortable and convenient as possible. If you can spend a few extra hours building the table and reduce the time it takes you to make each plug by even a few seconds, you’ll gain two entire work days!

Coral Reference Books: The Coral Team uses Reef Coral Identification by Paul Humann and Ned Deloach as a standard reference for the Caribbean and Corals of Australia and the Indo- Pacific by J.E.N. Veron for the Pacific. Other guides can be used, we have simply found these to be readily available, easy to use, and at the appropriate level of detail. It is always best to supplement a general guide like these with more specific local guides.

Coral Team: A group of volunteers and experts from around the world who agree to adhere to RBF coral propagation and planting ethics. Teams are organized on project-by-project basis from over 200 active Coral Team members, and the team adds new members on almost every project. Members of the Coral Team travel to project sites to complete each coral propagation and planting project. Every project team contains at least one Level 5 certified RBF Team Member who functions as a team leader. Other members of the team include local people who have initiated the project, and international experts or trained volunteers. Anyone may participate on a Coral Team project and become eligible for certification. Nearly all team members should be SCUBA certified, although it is not a requirement for participation. There are 5 specialty fields and 5 levels of certification within each field.

Coral Team Activation: Whenever a project is required (often on short notice after disasters), all RBF Coral Team members are notified by a posting to the Reef Ball Foundation myspace.com group bulletin posting. Additionally, Coral Team leaders often contact members with specific skill sets relevant to the project. Coral Team members maintain a Coral Team Member resume on file with the Foundation to help team leaders identify the best members for a project. The project sponsor has the option of offering incentives in the form of compensation, daily stipends, accommodations, meals, etc. to attract top experts to apply for positions on the project. Usually, the most economical choice is a mixture of a few paid experts and some less skilled volunteers. Coral Team Leaders are always paid for their work, but for certain eligible projects the Reef Ball Foundation will cover this cost. If quality or speed is at a premium, and resources permit, a project sponsor can specify a minimum certification level before participation is allowed.

Coral Tool Kit: An orange colored tool kit that contains items such as fragmentation tools (bone cutter wire cutter, wire stripper, bolt cutter, hack saw, etc.) , latex gloves, RBF Coral Antiseptic Dip, RBF Coral Epoxy Putty, RBF Plug Cement w/ADVA Flow, mixing sticks, container for mixing plug cement, medicine cups, container for water/ADVA Flow mixture, submersible thermometer, container for antiseptic dip, oil free sun block, antibacterial soap, battery brush, hand brush, plug twine, dissolved oxygen (DO) test kit and other miscellaneous items that may be required for the coral propagation table operation.

Diagram of Coral Curing and Planting Tray (available in Sketch Up ™). Coral Plugs fit into the holes drilled in the top board, which can be made from plywood or, if available, more water resistant materials such as resin or plastic.

Coral Tray or Coral Cutting and Planting Tray: A wooden tray designed to hold coral plugs while curing under the coral propagation table. This tray can be inserted into a larger crate and serve as a carrying tray for divers to transport and plant coral plugs. Embedded dive weights make the tray negatively buoyant.

Deployment: A word used to describe the act of placing an artificial reef into the sea. Reef Balls can be deployed from a barge or they can be floated out with their internal bladders called a “Floating Deployment.”

Diver using the direct putty method to attach a rock to a base substrate unit using epoxy putty. This method is used primarily for aquascaping- the process of putting the finishing aesthetic touches on a project

Direct Putty Method: A method of attaching a coral, live rock, or other marine life directly to the chosen base substrate or artificial reef using RBF epoxy putty or another similar product. Because no plug is used with this method, a mechanical bond on both the substrate and the object being planted is required. This method is often used for aquascaping.

Disaster Nursery: After storms, ship groundings, anchor drops and other disasters, there is often a significant amount of damaged coral and no practical way to re-attach them. In these cases, concerned divers can create a short-term disaster nursery to preserve the coral genetics impacted by the disaster. These nurseries must be able to keep the coral alive long enough to build and deploy the chosen artificial substrate and to activate a Coral Team. A Disaster Nursery is designed hold coral up to a maximum of about one year.

Dissolved Oxygen (DO) test kit is used to measure oxygen levels in the water at a work site to ensure that coral frags will not be overly stressed.

Dissolved Oxygen (DO) Test Kit: There are many inexpensive and effective DO test kits on the market. We have found that the Lamotte kit is easy to use, accurate enough, and priced under US$50. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully to get an accurate measurement. Testing DO at the site of the coral table is critical when first setting the table up and on particularly hot or stagnant days, or days following a heavy rainfall. If testing indicates that DO levels are over 4.5 mg/l, it is safe to conduct coral fragmenting and coral table operations.

‘Dry hands’ coral table worker positions a fragment of coral into the coral plug mold that is filled with sand and quick setting cement.

Dry hand dipper and placer: The person at the coral propagation table who handles dry fragmented coral; receiving the frags from the wet hands helper, dipping them into RBF antiseptic, shaking off any water on the fragments (water or antiseptic will prevent the frags from setting into the cement properly), and then placing them in the correct orientation in the wet cement in medicine cup molds. Some high-speed tables operate with 2 dry hand dippers and placers.

Epoxy Putty (aka RBF Coral Underwater Epoxy): A two part epoxy stick with a specific viscosity that allows for easy underwater mixing, yet stiff enough to hold coral plug in place until it hardens. RBF branded coral epoxy putty comes in a 9-minute (green and white) and a 5-minute working formulation.(brown and white) The 5-minute version is better for larger fragments that are prone to dislodging during wave surges, but requires more frequent mixing and is therefore less efficient and prone to waste. The 9-minute formulation is normally used for most situations. If you choose a non-RBF brand, be sure to test that they are not toxic to coral. (Do not use Devcon branded epoxy for that reason, and generally any strong smelling brands are not suitable.). If the brand you choose is too thick, it will be very time consuming and difficult to mix underwater. If it is too thin, it will not hold the plugs in place. If it is too sticky, it will be difficult to remove from your hands. If it is not sticky enough, it will not bond well. Expect some staining of your dive suit and dive gear whatever brand you choose… we consider it the mark of a veteran coral planter! EPVS value (Effective Protective Void Space Value): EPVS is hypothetical measurement used to estimate how much foray space a particular reef object is providing for a particular species or functional group of organisms. It is sometimes further defined by the type of foray activities so that a single species may have multiple EPVS values. For example food foraging foray may be different than resting or mating foray. EPVS calculations can be used to compare rehabilitation methods to help predict success for particular species. A group of indicator species weighted by relative populations can be used to compare rehabilitation methods protective void space creation directly.

Essential Fish Habitat (EFH): Congress defined essential fish habitat as "those waters and substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity.” (Federal Register 2002). Basically, this refers to critical geographical areas used by a species for any of the above purposes, an example would be areas of the Florida Keys used for spawning each year by Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus).

Fouling Community: A general term used to describe the assemblage of marine invertebrates, algae, and other marine life that is attached or lives directly on hard substrates. When a new artificial substrate is deployed, this community will develop over time in somewhat predictable patterns until it reaches its mature state. Typically, diatoms are the first colonizers followed by turf algae. After this, the succession of fouling community depends on the climate but usually includes tunicates and hydroids and some molluscs such as barnacles or scallops. In 3-6 months, with good water quality, coralline algae will form red, pink or purple patches that lay the groundwork for good natural coral settlement. These will be especially prominent when long spiny sea urchins (Diadema spp.) or other herbivores are present in good numbers. Without any coral plantings, properly built Reef Balls in the appropriate water quality will naturally develop into a coral reef in 8-25 years. Planting coral can speed this process up significantly.

Fire Coral: Fire coral (Millepora spp.) are sometimes desirable to propagate due to the types of fish that use them for protection. Typically, Reef Balls are planted with a monoculture of fire coral, since it will outcompete most other species, and only a few plugs are required because most fire coral species grow and spread very fast. In a calm area, just laying a few fire coral fragments on a Reef Ball may be enough to get them started even without plugging.

Silicon Fire Coral Handling Mitt can be used to avoid skin irritation when handling these species

Fire Coral Mitt: Fire coral can cause a painful rash when handled with bare hands. Latex gloves can easily tear when handling coral, so when working with fire corals, especially when hand fragmenting, RBF team members will use a silicon oven mitt for protection.

Flashing: Flashing, or flash, is used to refer to the moment the Plug Cement “skins over”, usually between 20-60 seconds after pouring the cement. At this moment, no new coral fragments can be added and it is time to initiate plug curing. Anyone at the coral propagation table can call the word “Flashing” when it is observed, in order to signal the dry hand dipper and planter to pass the flashed plugs to the wet hand coral handler for placement in the coral curing and planting tray in the water below the coral propagation table. After placement, the wet hand coral handler records the time so that the plugs can be moved to the popping station after 20 minutes.

Diver collecting fragments of coral from a fragging nursery. The diver typically fragments the colony into pieces the appropriate size for planting, places the frags in a basket, and then transports them immediately to the coral table for planting.

Fragging Nursery: An temporary underwater area used to hold imperiled corals until they can be further processed into fragments. Water temperature and water quality in the nursery must be the same as the original source of the coral. A sandy bottom away from the reef is preferred because work will be done underwater that could disturb the bottom. The fragging nursery is often located between the source of coral and coral propagation table.

Diver fragging a coral colony using wire cutters. A wide range of tools from small tools for corals like these, all the way up to bolt cutters or even a sledge hammer and crow bar or iron spike are needed for fragmenting the largest densest corals.

Fragging: The art of separating individual coral colonies into small fragments suitable for plugging and planting onto substrate. This skill takes a great deal of practice, because each coral species has different tools and techniques required to achieve a viable fragment.

Fragment: A subset (small piece) of a larger coral colony that has been separated from the larger colony by mechanical means. A fragment contains the same genetics as the parent colony. If two fragments from the same colony are planted close together, they will re-fuse into a single colony. If two fragments from different parental colonies are planted close together, they will not fuse and instead will compete for space. This is true even within the same species. The only exception is when two different parental colonies that share the same genetics (i.e. they were originally part of the same colony or both were originally fragmented from the same parental colony) in which case they will still fuse together.

Fragmentor: The person who works below the surface, using SCUBA gear, to fragment imperiled coral to prepare them for the wet hand coral handler.

Genetic Coral Rescue: A coral rescue method where a few small fragments are taken from each coral head that was damaged and are replanted to create new genetically identical colonies.

GIS: Acronym for Geographical Information Systems. GIS software can be used in conjunction with GPS data to generate detailed maps, and access accurate spatial databases of information for an area.

GPS Receiver: A hand-held or boat mounted unit designed to receive data from Global Positioning System satellites and calculate the unit’s exact position on Earth’s surface. These units can be accurate to within a few meters, and can be used to generate extremely accurate maps of project sites.

Hacksaw used for fragmenting large or difficult corals

Hacksaw: Sometimes compression tools like bone cutters are unable to fragment a larger coral. In these cases and a hacksaw can be used. A hacksaw can also be used to make a scar line to aid compression cutting of a coral fragment.

Wire hand brush used to clear away fouling to provide more area for coral basing.

Hand Brush: A wire hand brush is used to clean the area adjacent to the coral plug hole before planting on an artificial reef module that has been deployed for more than a few days. This provides space for the coral to base and attach itself to the artificial substrate.

Handling Style Groups: Reef Ball Coral Teams group corals into general groups when they share common propagation techniques or are restabilized in similar ways. For example, finger size branching corals are usually divided by a wire cutters and they usually exhibit good basing qualities. Following are a stand set of Handling Style Groups:

  • Fire/Lace corals,
  • Soft corals with woody stems (excludes sea fans)
  • Sea fans
  • Soft corals without woody stems
  • Finger sized branching corals
  • Large diameter branching /pillar corals
  • Encrusting corals
  • Mound/boulder/brain corals
  • Leaf/plate/sheet corals
  • Flower/cup/single polyp corals
  • Black corals
  • Other

Note: Specific Coral Teams may need to add additional groups based on local coral handling needs. As a training goal, volunteers on a coral team should at least be able to identify most corals as belonging to one of these handling style groups.

A hydrometer measures the specific gravity of water, which can be used to approximate salinity. It is an inexpensive tool accurate enough for most coral rehabilitation projects.

Hydrometer or Specific Gravity Meter: A hydrometer is an inexpensive way to approximate salinity that can be found at most aquarium or pet stores. It can be used to check the salinity of the Antiseptic dip if you are not using veterinary strength solutions. It can also be useful if you are working where freshwater runoff can affect the conditions at your nurseries or coral propagation table.

Hydrostatic Method: A traditional technique using hydrostatic cement to attach adult coral, live rock, or other marine life directly to the chosen base substrate or artificial reef without plugging. To be effective, the team member must be able to make a mechanical bond on both the substrate and the object being planted. This method involves mixing hydrostatic cement in a plastic bag on the ocean surface and sending it down for a diver to work it into a putty-like consistency, which is then used to re-stabilize mature or large coral colonies. This method takes special training and practice to be able to perform reliably. Too much water in the mix can greatly weaken the bond. RBF has seen better results when adding 10% by volume of microsilica to the hydrostatic cement mixture, but care must be taken that the dry microsilica and dry cement are mixed together well as they tend to separate. The Degussa company makes an admixture called "RHEOMAC UW 450” that can be added to the hydrostatic cement to keep it from causing an underwater cement plume when it is removed from the mixing bag. With Rheomac UW450, the water also remains clear where you place the cement, making it easier to work at the coral’s base without damaging the coral. This method is time consuming, and the materials are expensive, therefore it should be used with discretion.

Imperiled Coral: A coral colony that without assistance will most likely die within one year. Examples include:

  1. 1 Loose or broken coral fragments or colonies disturbed by storms, ship groundings, anchor drops, etc. that have landed on non-hard bottom types, where it is expected that they cannot stabilize themselves to prevent sinking into the soft substrate or constant overturning and dying.
  2. 2 Coral that will be directly killed in the near future by dredging, marine construction, or other human activities.

Juvenile Fish Nursery: Most marine fish are pelagic spawners and in the larval stages the fish are widely dispersed. Studies have indicated that survival rate in the late larval to early juvenile size range as these larval fish attempt to find shelter and food on the reef, is a key factor in the rate of fish production. Small, low-height, complex or widely scattered structures are ideal for protecting fish at this stage. Red mangrove roots, sea grass beds, and scattered patch reefs are good examples of juvenile fish nursery areas. Artificial reefs can be designed to mimic this function too.

Light Intensity: There are many different units to express the amount of light over an area, some common ones include Lux, Micro Einsteins, Foot Candles, and Lumens. Sometimes, light metering devices are used to make sure coral are not exposed to rapid changes in lighting levels that are beyond their ability to adapt. Knowing what levels of light are acceptable requires species-specific knowledge, but in general, and especially when transplanting, it is best to keep a species as close to the ambient light conditions where it was originally found.

Map Datum: Geographical Positioning Systems (GPS) use a specific “map datum” to locally reference the GPS receiver to the satellites. If you do not specify the same map datum for the coordinates you are given you may not end up at the same location. So be sure to set your equipment to the proper map datum specification. Unless otherwise specified, the map datum should be defined using "WGS 84", a default datum that is most frequently used to define coordinates in GPS units.

'Mass Spawn: Many species of coral synchronize their spawning times so that all colonies of the same species spawn at the same time. When this event occurs it is called a mass spawn. Within a few months is the best time to deploy artificial substrate, in order to maximize natural recruitment, because corals have a better chance of successfully colonizing fresh substrate than substrate already colonized by fouling organisms and coral predators.

Mechanical Bond: When using the direct putty method or hydrostatic cement method, a mechanical bond is formed when both surfaces have an undercut, which creates an overhanging portion at the interface between the two surfaces. Mechanical bonds are much stronger than adhesion-only bonds. Note: The rough surface texture created on concrete by using sugar water as a surface texture enhancer and then rinsing with water after de-molding creates an excellent undercut surface for mechanical bonds.

Microsilica: A concrete admixture added to reduce the permeability of concrete, neutralize the pH, and double the concrete strength. It is dosed at about 5%-10% of the total amount of Type II Portland cement used or 15% of the hydrostatic cement volume. Higher dosage rates provide an exponentially diminishing return with no increases in performance beyond a 30% Microsilica/Portland ratio.

Mixer: The person at the coral table who mixes and pours the cement. Typically the Table Boss. See: Table Boss

Mixing: In RBF terminology, this refers to the phrase shouted at the coral table by the table boss at the moment the plug concrete mixing is initiated. At this point, the wet hand fragment handler readies the coral fragments for passing to the dry hand dipper and placer.

Camera monitoring frame or quadrat framer. This device is built so that most standard underwater digital cameras can screw into the plate in the center of the camera frame, and will take a picture downwards towards the quadrat. The quadrat allows the photo to be standardized for length.

Monitoring Frame: A PVC camera guide with a fixed optical length and a rectangular measuring quadrat marked with metric and English scales. Used to position the camera over coral plugs to take standardized monitoring photos. Advanced users will add movable “luggage tags” with numbers or letters to encode variables such as artificial reef module identifier, date or coral colony identifier. Length of the rod which attaches the monitoring frame to the camera will vary with the focal length of the camera used. Focal length should be adjusted in advance with the camera in wide-angle (non-zoomed) format. When taking monitoring photos, make sure camera is in the same position relative to the subject being photographed for each image. Most divers prefer a frame that is neutral or slightly negatively buoyant. Gravel or lead shot can be put inside the frame for this purpose. Frame should have small holes drilled into it to allow water to flow in and out.

File:Repairing damaged reefs terminology image 28.jpg
The same coral species can have vastly different physical appearance because coral colonies can adapt their morphology to reflect their conditions. Left: in shallow depths, star corals frequently assume a boulder like form. Right: The same species of star coral assumes a plate like form at deeper depths to have a greater surface area to aid in light absorption.

Morphology or Coral Morphology: The ability of many coral species to build a colony in various shapes to adapt to local growing conditions. Factors can include lighting, currents, food availability, etc. A coral planted as a fragment can develop its morphology to suit the new location. An adult colony transplanted to a new location does not have this ability. This difference is one of the major reasons survival rates are higher in fragments than for transplants in coral that have this ability. Morphological differences are one reason why identifying coral species can be so tricky, because the same species can look markedly different in various environmental conditions.

Natural Recruitment: Base substrate or a properly designed artificial reef will recruit and develop a fouling community over time through the process of natural recruitment. That community will include coral and other desirable marine life, presuming the water quality and site location is suitable. In most cases, even without any effort for coral propagation and planting this will occur over time.

A colony of oculina coral can be seen growing on the Reef Ball in this photo (identified by the arrow). This Reef Ball is deployed in over 240 meters (800 feet) of water, where the water temperature is often below 10°C (50°F).

Oculina: A group of hardy coral species, some of which can survive at great ocean depths with very light levels and some of which tolerate very cold temperatures.

Oil Free Sun Block: Coral Team members are required to protect themselves from sunburn. Loss of a team member’s function due to sunburn can disrupt typically tight project timelines. However, most sun care products contain oil that can contaminate the coral propagation table. Oil is particularly dangerous because it can form a film on corals, or on water containers used for corals, which can disrupt the flow of oxygen across the surface, and stress the coral. Therefore, Coral Team members are required to use oil free sun blockers (typically in spray formats that make frequent applications easier).

Pancake Syrup: This term is used by RBF Coral Teams to refer to the appropriate consistency for plug cement, approximately that of unbaked batter or maple syrup. Mixing cement to this consistency takes practice and is one of the most important aspects of quality control on the coral propagation table.

Diver attaches a coral plug to an artificial reef module using epoxy putty.

Planting: Affixing the coral plug into the coral plug hole with underwater epoxy putty.

Schematic of diver planting coral plugs from a Coral Planting Tray onto a Reef Ball.

Planting Team: A dive team that mixes underwater epoxy putty and plants coral plugs onto substrate modules. Sometimes divers work in teams of two, with a mixer and a planter and sometimes each member does both tasks. In many cases, planting teams do not wear fins when planting to avoid accidentally knocking off adjacent, freshly planted coral plugs. Even in shallow water, dive tanks should be used to ensure careful slow movements needed to plant coral without disturbing other freshly planted plugs. Team members can use the tray to store supplies such as a wire brush, or extra epoxy putty. Planting teams need to be trained on the project’s planting strategy to know where to plant coral plugs with specific coral species. Planting errors can take years to show up and avoiding them can be important for long-term success. A veteran planter in good sea conditions can plant 100 or more coral plugs per hour, but variable conditions such as current, surge, or reduced visibility can reduce this number drastically. An experienced and skilled planter uses much less epoxy putty per coral plug than a newly trained beginning planter. A beginning planter may get 5-7 plugs per epoxy stick, whereas a skilled planter can get 20 or more. When computing the amount of epoxy putty needed for a project, take this variable into account.

Planting Strategy: A planting strategy must be developed to allow the base materials to develop as closely as possible to the species diversity and population densities of nearby natural reef. Mastering the development of planting strategy takes a level of skill that is beyond most volunteer teams. Typically, the Foundation develops a planting strategy using RBF experts, who are assisted by as much local expertise as can be accessed. Todd Barber, John Walch, Lorna Slade, Marsha Pardee and Mario van der Bulck are currently (2006) the RBF experts that have the level of understanding needed to develop good planting strategies. There are probably some coral rehabilitation specialists/scientists that have similar skills, particularly ones that know specific local environments well. We also hope to develop more experts, but this type of training takes years, not months. Some of the complex factors that go into planting strategy are:

  1. 1 Environmental tolerances of the particular species (lighting, currents, sedimentation, resistance, salinity, temperature changes, feeding requirements, depth limitation, etc.)
  2. 2 Warfare or fusing of coral colonies
  3. 3 Expected growth rates of various species
  4. 4 Expected natural settlement on the artificial reefs
  5. 5 Water quality, present and expected
  6. 6 Wave and climate expectations
  7. 7 Goals of the individual project (for example aesthetics, specific use, etc.)
  8. 8 Capabilities of the project (how many coral can be planted, etc.)
  9. 9 Preferences for threatened or endangered species

Plug Cement or RBF Disk & Plug Mix: A mixture of hydrostatic cement, microsilica and optional proprietary ingredients used by RBF coral teams for making coral plugs.

Plug Curing: Placing a freshly plugged coral, still in the medicine cup after flashing, into the sea for 20 minutes or more until the plug is hard enough to separate the coral & plug from the medicine cup and sand.

Plugging: The process of imbedding small coral fragments into a standard medicine cup; which is filled first with 1/2 inch of sand and then filled to the top with 30 second setting plug cement.

Plug Nursery: Sometimes, it is not practical or possible to plant plugs immediately after plug curing. In these cases, a temporary plug nursery can be established, which is a protected area where the coral plugs can be safely stored until it is time to plant them.

A Coral fragment placed into 30 second RBF plug cement to create a Coral Plug.

Plug: A coral fragment embedded in a small concrete cup so that it can be easily attached to the artificial reef substrate and to promote a good base formation.

Plug Twine: Some coral species, most notably sea fans, are difficult to epoxy into a coral adapter plug hole because the slightest sea surge causes them to pop out of the hole before the epoxy has a chance to harden. Therefore, a temporary brace is created using cotton string (twine) to hold the plug into the surface of the artificial reef module until the coral epoxy putty hardens. The twine is then removed.

Popping Station: After a coral plug hardens for 20-30 minutes underwater, the coral curing and planting tray is removed from under the table and the Popper will remove the plastic medicine cups from the coral plug by pressing their fingers on the sand filled portion of the medicine cup until the plug “pops” up. This is done using a technique to catch the plug from the side so that there is no need to touch the coral. The “popped” plugs are then re-placed in the tray and turned over to the planting teams. The medicine cups are recovered and returned to the coral propagation table for re-use.

Popper: A Coral Team member trained to remove coral plugs from medicine cup molds without touching the attached coral fragment.

Table Boss pouring cement into coral plug moulds.

Pouring: A term called out by the Table Boss when the coral plug molds are about to be poured. This signals the dry hand dipper and planter to begin treating the coral with an antiseptic dip and then to ready them for placement into the fast setting plug cement. From the time the Table Boss starts “Pouring” it is typically 30 seconds until the concrete flashes.

Propagation: The act of creating multiple coral colonies from a single colony. This is functionally equivalent to cloning plants.

Propagation and Planting induced Coral Fragment Death: In the first 48 hours transplanting plugs, the major causes of fragment death are Rapid Tissue Necrosis (RTN) or a failed epoxy bond. From 48 hours to 90 days the major cause of plugged fragment death are coral predators. Beyond 90 days, losses are usually related to improper basing or incorrect placement location for the species such as too much or too little light, incorrect depth, too close to sediments or improper orientation to currents. Survival rates of propagated fragments are variable, based on how well the techniques in this manual are practiced. Properly handled propagated fragments can have mortality rates close to those of natural coral in the area, and this is the goal every project should strive to achieve. A monitoring program should be established to determine if this goal is being achieved. When a monitoring program establishes that fragment death rates exceeds the expected rate by more than 10%-20%, procedures need to be reviewed and corrected before additional propagation and planting. If specific techniques can be documented to eliminate part of this mortality, they should be reported to the Reef Ball Foundation for addition to this manual. This is one of the most critical roles of grassroots-based monitoring. Globally, our projects average about 80-90% survival compared to background natural mortality, which is quite good, but there is still room for improvement. Note: Even though there is an expected mortality rate in fragments above that of natural coral, the net number of new colonies is always higher than without propagation efforts. This is because coral are propagated, not transplanted.

Propagation Tears: Many brain coral, lettuce coral and encrusting soft coral species develop tear-shaped lobes as they naturally try to propagate themselves. These “natural” fragmenting lines can be used to create fragments on coral that typically cannot be fragmented easily.

Protective Void Space: The most critical function that coral colonies provide to fish is void space. A void space is an area that protects fish from larger predators and provides shelter from energy draining water currents. Void space is created by coral colonies both in the interior of the structures, in holes and cavities of the eroded limestone, and areas around the reef where eddies and back currents form. During low current conditions, the void space expands to the largest distance a particular fish can be away from the reef and return for safe haven when its particular predators abound. Therefore, note that void space is different for different fish types and sizes. Void space shrinks during storm events and high currents. At these times the space is limited to interior cavities and close to the edges of more solid reef structures capable of creating an eddy. Rehabilitation of void space IS CRITICAL to restoring fishery resources to coral reefs and is often overlooked. Note: All reefs provides protective void space. Several living non-reef communities do so too, such as sea grass beds, kelp forests, submerged mangrove roots, floating sargassum “rafts or mats” or other floating biological masses; and even such surprising things such as whales, manta rays and sharks.

Rapid Response Training: Local training for dealing with coral damage events BEFORE an emergency occurs. Rapid response training is usually given along with the stocking of a Coral Disaster Response Kit. Having rapid response training means there is local talent available to deal with coral damage events, without having to rely on international assistance from a Coral Team activation. Since all non-perishable rehabilitation tools and supplies are pre-stocked before a disaster, this means there are no delays in dealing with coral damage and typically the disaster nursery step can be eliminated, thereby improving the odds of a successful rehabilitation.

This plug has developed RTN in Thailand and needed to be removed. When an RTN nursery is not used, a 48-hour monitoring after planting is required and using a screwdriver and hammer all plugs with RTN must be removed and destroyed

Rapid Tissue Necrosis (RTN): A rapidly spreading bacterial infection distinguishable by a very distinctive smell, fast movement of white tissue across the colony and rapid colony death, usually hours. RTN can occur at any site of injury to the coral. It starts as an area of white coral tissue, usually at the site of fragmentation or when the coral has been injured by handling RTN typically kills the entire fragment within 24 hours. RTN is one of the main reasons that transplanting whole colonies of coral is so difficult, because once started it will almost always kill the entire colony. The cause of RTN is a simple formula: STRESS+INJURY+BACTERIA=RTN.

Prevention is the only treatment for RTN. There is no cure for RTN and once identified in a fragment, the fragment should be destroyed and anyone handling the fragment must thoroughly wash their hands and disinfect any tools with alcohol or other sterilization measures, because RTN is extremely infectious, especially to stressed or injured coral. RTN is common in Acropora and other rapidly growing coral species, occasional in medium growth rate coral species and rare in slow growing skeleton coral species. It is fortunate that RTN rarely infects the very slow growing brain coral, so restabilizing adult brain colonies of brain coral can be quite successful even if the colonies are injured slightly in the effort. RTN has not been documented in soft coral species. However, soft coral species can succumb to bacterial diseases that result in death, just slower (usually taking 1-3 weeks to completely kill a plug). It is presumed that RTN can be caused by a number of different bacteria that are common in the marine environment. It can best be understood by considering RTN as an infected wound, just as an untreated cut can infect a human. Remember that coral are animals and are susceptible to the same kinds of infections that affect all animals.

RTN Prevention Strategies: We know the formula for RTN is STRESS+INJURY+BACTERIA=RTN Therefore, effectively dealing with RTN involves utilizing techniques to reduce injury and stress to the corals, antiseptic treatment of injury sites and good hygiene by those handling the coral. In terms of stress levels, this manual is full of tips such as gradual changes in temperature, light and water quality conditions. Handling practices such as ensuring polyps are contracted before contact is important. All transport procedures should insure that different coral species don’t come in contact with each other and are not exposed to additional injury. Corals are ideally exposed to air only one time during the entire propagation and transplantation procedures. Every exposure to air reducs the amount of protective slime that protects the coral from infection. People in direct contact with coral (or water that coral is kept in) should only use oil free suntan lotion. Dissolved oxygen levels should be maintained at the highest possible levels and never allowed to drop below 4.5 mg/l. These strategies not only reduce the occurrence of RTN but also will create stronger coral fragments that are more resistant to coral predation.

Reef: Hard substrate with its associated fouling community that provides essential protective void space for fish and other mobile marine life.

A refractometer

Refractometer: A refractometer is a more sophisticated way than specific gravity meters (hydrometers) to measure the exact salinity or the amount of salt dissolved in seawater. They don’t produce variable readings in different water temperature ranges either. Refractometers are available from professional environmental monitoring suppliers. They can be used to check the salinity of the Antiseptic dip if you are not using veterinary strength iodine solutions. They can also be useful if you are working where freshwater runoff can affect the conditions at your nurseries or coral propagation table. A refractometer is very useful for Red Mangrove projects because salinity must be closely monitored. Simply put a drop on the lens of the water you want to sample and look into the scope for the reading. Note: Must be calibrated with distilled water before use.

Release of Liability & Consent to Share Photos and Image Form: All Coral Team members must sign a release of all liability noting they are accepting full risk for participation in projects. This is critical because many government-based projects do not allow diving activities without special certifications due to liability. Additionally, members must agree that we can use their likeness or image in our publications, website, etc. Also, the team members must agree that they will share all project-related photos (not personal photos) with the Reef Ball Foundation and allow their unrestricted use.

Re-stabilization: Reattaching an adult coral colony back to the sea floor or an artificial reef module after it has been dislodged. Typically, this is accomplished using the Hydrostatic Method or some other anchoring method. Restabilization be as simple as uprighting a coral head that has been overturned.

RTN: See Rapid Tissue Necrosis

RTN Nursery: A temporary holding area for Acropora plugs (the coral most prone to RTN development), for a 24-48 hour quarantine period before planting on Reef Balls, in order to identify fragments that have succumbed to Rapid Tissue Necrosis (RTN) from fragmentation and plugging stress. This helps to eliminate planting plugs that will not survive, and avoids a 48 hour monitoring period with screwdriver and hammer in hand to remove bad plugs following transplanting. A 5-10% loss of Acropora plugs is typical, unless conditions are perfectly managed and therefore slightly more plugs should be made than are desired.

Runner: In some situations, a “runner” is a diver or snorkeler that transports full coral plug trays from the coral propagation table to planting teams and returns with empty trays to the coral propagation table. In other situations, planting teams do their own running). Divers with aerobic sport training are ideal candidates for this task.

Runner’s Socks:Due to the high incidence of blisters on the feet when working in sandy areas, RBF Coral Team members are sometimes required to wear double-layered socks (when dive booties are not used) to prevent blisters. These are commonly available to runners with a common brand named ”Wright Sock.” You can also obtain lycra socks from a company called “Scuba Doo” but two pairs will need to be worn for the best protection. http://www.cococheznaynay.com/ is the Scuba Doo website. They also produce a Reef Ball “Doo Rag”, a popular item among team members to shield their heads from sunburn. When dive booties are worn, only one layer of socks are required to reduce blistering.

A sand analysis
Sand grains
A sand collection device

Sand Analysis: In some projects, you may need to learn about the grain size distribution, sand composition, or amount of sand transporting through your site as part of your rehabilitation efforts. For example, sand sieve analysis can be performed to see what size grains are present. This is useful for erosion control issues and coral sediment stresses (corals are more stressed by smaller grain sizes). One can obtain standard screens for this analysis at forestry suppliers or similar vendors. Take your sand samples from multiple locations (if an erosion control project as instructed by your coastal engineer) and place in marked zip lock bags. When you return to your lab, dry the sand (a microwave works nicely) and put on a paper plate. Split the sand into four even quadrants and use sand from two opposing quadrants for passing through the sieve screens. You can then compute percentages of various grain sizes on the basis of volume, weight or both.

Sometimes you will want to know more about the composition of the sand. Take a small sample and view with a magnifying lens. Sorry, this is slow work. It can be useful to understand the type of sediment stressing the corals. Generally terrestrial-based (round sand grains) are more stressful to corals than irregular shaped coral or shell sands.

Finally, and usually most importantly, you need to know how much sediment is traveling at a particular water depth in your site. It is VERY important to know what height particular coral species must be planted above the sea floor to avoid sedimentation stress. A simple sediment trap can be made following the diagram below (available in Sketch-up). This trap can be used in the natural reef to determine what level of sediment a particular coral can handle and then be applied to your planting strategy. The length of time the trap must be in place depends on the volume of sediment in the area. What is important that the time frame is the same in all your locations so that sediment volumes or weights are comparable. Note the design allows for adjustable heights and easy retrieval of the sediment trap collection tubes.

A SCUBA certification card

SCUBA Certification Card: Nearly all Coral Team members are SCUBA certified. Coral Team members must send an electronic scan of their certification cards to the Reef Ball Foundation before they can participate on Reef Ball Coral Teams. Team Leaders make assignments based on your highest level of certification plus your demonstration of scuba skills in the field. Note: we also recommend that you keep an electronic copy of your passports on file with us in case you lose your passport on a trip.

Sea Surface Temperature (SST): SSTs are used to help predict bleaching events and to help determine temperature ranges on a reef. Remember, SST is a surrogate for reef water temperature, but they are not always the same due to thermoclines.

A secchi disk

Secchi Disk: An 8 inch disk with alternating black and white quadrants used to determine the degree of underwater visibility. Markings or knots on the rope identify the distance of the disk from the water surface. The disk is lowered into the water until it disappears and the depth recorded, then the disk is raised until it re- appears and the depth recorded. The two depths are averaged and this becomes the Secchi visibility. Usually, the color of the water is also noted.

Sediment Grain Size Analysis: See Sand Analysis

Setting of coral plugs

Setting: The art of laying a coral fragment in the medicine cup mold after it is filled with fast setting plug cement. It is an art because there are several factors that must be considered including a “top” and “bottom” side to many coral species such as Elkhorn and Lettuce coral. Sideways orientation is required for finger corals to stimulate better basing. Knowing just how deep the coral needs to be placed into the plug cement for proper adhesion is an important skill. Some coral species, such as soft coral with woody stems (gorgonians) require exact depth placement with the flesh only touching, but not below the concrete surface. During “setting” the dry hand dipper and setter must judge the concrete setting time exactly and not place a coral during or after flashing. Some species require special “setting” techniques such as having some part of the coral braced against the side of the medicine cup mold. Medicine cup mold modification may be required for larger fragments, ask your coral team leader about this if required.

Sterilized Hard Bottom: Areas of freshly exposed limestone rock typically from a ship grounding, tsunami, hurricane or other physical event. This type of bottom can be drilled to create coral adapter receptacle holes and subsequently used for coral planting. Freshly exposed sterile bottom from sand movement is not recommended because the sand can return and smother the planted corals. Note: Without the addition of artificial reefs, it will take much longer for these planted reefs to develop the complexity of a mature reef. However, this approach is often suited for organizations that prefer not to use artificial reefs.

A submersible thermometer

Submersible Thermometer: A thermometer is used to check the temperature of the antiseptic dip and to check the nurseries and coral table plug curing areas. The thermometer is also used to take ambient water temperatures to make sure temperatures don’t exceed 30 degrees Centigrade (86 degrees Fahrenheit); which is the temperature when fragmentation and plugging activities need to be stopped. These activities can be continued if a Dissolved Oxygen test can be conducted to confirm that DO levels are over 4.5 mg/l (in which case it is possible to continue fragging and plugging). If a DO test kit is not available, a rule of thumb is that if it is windy and there is good circulation it will probably be okay, if it is calm or poor circulation it is likely dangerous to proceed. In fact, on calm days or in low circulation environments DO testing should begin at 28 degrees Centigrade or 81 degrees Fahrenheit.

Subsidence: A term used to describe an artificial reef or base substrate sinking into a soft sea bottom type (typically sand or mud).

Sugar: Sugar acts to slow down (retard) the setting speed of cement and it can be used in when the fast setting plug cement flashes too quickly. Sugar water is used on concrete artificial reef molds to create a rough surface texture with exposed aggregates that encourages natural settlement of larval coral (the module surface must be rinsed with water immediately after de-molding to achieve this effect).

Sunburning: Coral can suffer ill effects of the both the sun's UV rays and changes to higher intensity lighting conditions similar to moving a house plant directly into full sun. Moving corals into shallower water, clearer water, changing compass orientation to a more south (north in southern hemisphere) facing orientation and moving to less shaded areas can all cause sunburn.

Supply Stocker: The person on the Coral Team designated to bring fresh supplies to the coral table including fresh water, moist sand, plug cement, etc. Often, the supply stocker will help ready planting teams, inventory material stocks, serve as a safety guard, arrange for snacks, meals or hydration, and make store runs for special needs. This position can be filled by a non-diving member of a Coral Team and is critical to overall efficiency. If the team has vehicles, the Supply Stocker is normally in charge of their use and allocation.

Underwater Epoxy Putty: See Epoxy Putty

Team members

Table Boss, Boss or Mixer: The person at the coral propagation table who handles mixing and pouring of the 3 minute setting concrete, cleaning of the mixing vessels and who gives directional commands to the other table workers. The Table Boss controls the pace of production and is responsible for quality control and safety.

Thermoclines: Thermoclines or “temperature layers” are distinct horizontal layers in the sea with temperature differences usually getting cooler with each layer passed (if there are multiple thermoclines) on the way to the bottom. Sometimes these temperature changes are very substantial. For coral teams, care should be taken not to bring coral through thermoclines if possible…the temperature shock creates a lot of stress on coral. Additionally, if SST is used to determine reef water temperature, it should be adjusted if a thermocline is present. A reverse themocline is when the temperature on the bottom is warmer than the temperature on the surface. As seen in the graphic to the right, they can manifest in several complicated forms.

Transplanting: The act of moving a whole coral colony from one location to another location. This is much more difficult than propagation and planting fragment plugs. It requires a special level of certification on the Coral Team and should be considered a useful technique only for high value corals that cannot be easily propagated.

Waterproof Papers and Field Books: Coral Team participants often need waterproof paper for underwater monitoring forms and field books for recording data. You will find these and other specialty field items like sand grain distribution sorters, refractometers, and survey equipment at http://www.forestry-suppliers.com/

Warfare or Coral Warfare, Chemical Warfare: Some species of hard coral (most famously Galaxia species) have the ability to sting nearby coral to defend or create new territory for themselves. Being closely related to jellyfish, this is not surprising. Galaxia and other species have specialized stinging tentacles that can sometimes reach long distances (a foot or more). Other species have toxins in their slime coats which can affect their enemies. This is one of the reasons why hands must be washed between handling of different species to avoid (the other reason being sanitation) spreading loose tentacles or slime from one coral species to another. The other implication is that hard corals must also be separated when handled in captivity. With expertise, one can learn that not all coral have this ability and it is “okay” to mix certain species, but it is better to err on the side of caution and avoid this practice. Soft corals are not known to have this ability.

The other team members

"Wet Hands Table Worker: The person at the coral propagation table who handles wet fragmented coral and the plug curing process.

Wire cutters

Wire (Diagonal) Cutters: A tool used for fragging, typically for small finger coral species.

Wire strippers
Automatic wire strippers

Wire Strippers: A tool used during the fragging process for woody-stemmed soft coral (gorgonians). This tool is used to strip back the flesh at the base of a propagated stem, exposing enough of the woody stem to be embedded in the plug for a firm attachment. Care must be taken to hold the gorgonians softly so that there is no crush injury from your grip on the coral. Automatic wire strippers can be used on some soft coral types to avoid crush injury.

Zip Tie Method: A method of attaching small to medium diameter coral fragments directly to a base substrate or temporary nursery with plastic zip ties. Zip tie methods are generally suitable for larger fragments of basing coral species on stable substrates with small diameter attachment points. The technique is most useful when there is an over-abundance of imperiled finger type corals after storms. This method is often used in coral farming and temporary attachment situations. Variations of this technique include attachment with fishing line, rope, metal wire, etc, ... For temporary nursery uses, with gorgonians, the woody stem must be exposed using a wire stripper and the zip tie should be attached to the woody part only. Zip ties should be fully tightened for either soft or hard corals, even in nursery situations.


Zooxanthellae: According to NOAA, “Most reef-building coral contain photosynthetic algae, called zooxanthellae that live in their tissues. The coral and algae have a mutualistic relationship. The coral provides the algae with a protected environment and compounds they need for photosynthesis. In return, the algae produce oxygen and help the coral to remove wastes. Most importantly, zooxanthellae supply the coral with glucose, glycerol, and amino acids, which are the products of photosynthesis.” In regard to planting coral, the light requirements of the zooxanthellae must be satisfied and rapid changes in light intensity levels can shock or kill zooxanthellae. Additionally, if a coral is stressed by high temperatures and low dissolved oxygen levels, they can expel zooxanthellae from their body which is called “bleaching” and if the bleached condition lasts long enough the coral will die.

File:Repairing damaged reefs terminology image 50.jpg
Diver attaches a coral plug to an artificial reef module using epoxy putty.
File:Repairing damaged reefs terminology image 51.jpg
Schematic of diver planting coral plugs from a Coral Planting Tray onto a Reef Ball.

Planting Team: A dive team that mixes underwater epoxy putty and plants coral plugs onto substrate modules. Sometimes divers work in teams of two, with a mixer and a planter and sometimes each member does both tasks. In many cases, planting teams do not wear fins when planting to avoid accidentally knocking off adjacent, freshly planted coral plugs. Even in shallow water, dive tanks should be used to ensure careful slow movements needed to plant coral without disturbing other freshly planted plugs. The diver can use the tray to store supplies such as a wire brush, or extra epoxy putty. Planting teams need to be trained on the project’s planting strategy to know where to plant coral plugs with specific coral species. Planting errors can take years to show up and avoiding them can be important for long-term success. A veteran planter in good sea conditions can plant 100 or more coral plugs per hour, but variable conditions such as current, surge, or reduced visibility can reduce this number drastically. An experienced and skilled planter uses much less epoxy putty per coral plug than a newly trained beginning planter. A beginning planter may get 5-7 plugs per epoxy stick, whereas a skilled planter can get 20 or more. When computing the amount of epoxy putty needed for a project, take this variable into account.

Planting Strategy: A planting strategy must be developed to allow the base materials to develop as closely as possible to the species diversity and population densities of nearby natural reef. Mastering the development of planting strategy takes a level of skill that is beyond most volunteer teams. Typically, the Foundation develops a planting strategy using RBF experts, who are assisted by as much local expertise as can be accessed. Todd Barber, John Walch, Lorna Slade, Marsha Pardee and Mario van der Bulck are currently (2006) the RBF experts that have the level of understanding needed to develop good planting strategies. There are probably some coral rehabilitation specialists/scientists that have similar skills, particularly ones that know specific local environments well. We also hope to develop more experts, but this type of training takes years, not months. Some of the complex factors that go into planting strategy are:

  1. Environmental tolerances of the particular species (lighting, currents,

sedimentation resistance, salinity, temperature changes, feeding requirements, depth limitation, etc.)

  1. Warfare or fusing of coral colonies
  2. Expected growth rates of various species
  3. Expected natural settlement on the artificial reefs
  4. Water quality, present and expected
  5. Wave and climate expectations
  6. Goals of the individual project (for example aesthetics, specific use, etc.)
  7. Capabilities of the project (how many coral can be planted, etc.)
  8. Preferences for threatened or endangered species

Plating /Encrusting Coral: Coral that bases but does so in an unlimited fashion typically growing over hard surfaces that are not already colonized by other coral.

Reef Building Coral: substantial calcium carbonate depositing (hard) coral. The environmental assessment found, for example, mustard hill variety, Porites astreoides, Lesser Starlet Coral, Siderastrea radians, Massive Starlet Coral, Siderastrea siderea, and Boulder Star Coral otherwise referred to as Montastrea annularis that are reef-building corals.

Non-Reef Building Coral such as soft coral. Most notably Pterogorgia guadalupensis (Purple grooved-blade sea whip) and a few common sea fans on the site.

Mobile Inhabitants: animals, reptiles, fish, invertebrates and other marine life capable of moving when threatened.

Change Tolerant/Hardy Coral: generally slow growing hard coral such as brains or coral that handle cold, changing or turbid conditions well such as Porites porites (finger coral) or pencil coral. These coral can often be handled with less care and will generally survive well.

Sensitive Coral: generally the fastest growing hard coral such as Acropora species that is very susceptible to coral diseases/damage caused by handling such as rapid tissue necrosis. Also includes (attached) coral heads or other complex communities where damage and loss are common with improper handling.

Basing Coral: coral that will re-attach to base substrate creating a limited base size when replanted. (And can be attached temporarily by a re-planter as long as the attachment will hold until the coral is rebased).

Plating/Encrusting Coral: coral that bases but does so in an unlimited fashion typically growing over hard surfaces that are not already colonized by other coral.

Non-Basing Coral: coral that cannot re-attach to substrate when re-planted. (And therefore must be attached permanently by the re-planter).

Asexually Reproducible Coral: coral that can be (easily) reproduced asexually (Typically coral that are easy to divide).

Not Asexually Reproducible Coral: coral that cannot be reproduced asexually (easily). (Such as individual polyp coral or coral that require advanced techniques such as coring to be propagated).

Coral sizes include:

  • Coral Heads: coral colonies that are typically well attached to the seabed and are typically a mixed community of coral species and a benthic fouling community. A coral head it typically defined by a perimeter of sand/seagrass/mud and/or live bottom.
  • Individual Coral Colonies & Live Rocks: Individual coral colonies or loose rocky substrate with a fouling community that are not well attached, often small, and if coral are usually of a single coral species type. If coral, they are generally too small to have a substantial associated fouling community.
  • (Coral) Fragments: broken or intentionally segmented pieces of a coral colony normally used for asexual reproduction of a coral colony.

Disclaimer[edit | edit source]

This information was Reef Ball's Draftguide document.