Edition 1505
15 December 2018
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Algarve scientists saving storm-damaged corals and appealing for public’s help

in Algarve · 12-04-2018 14:55:00 · 0 Comments

Researchers from the Algarve University’s Centre for Marine Sciences (CCMAR) have been collecting decades-old coral from along the Algarve shoreline that washed up after being damaged during the ferocious storms, in a bid to transplant them back in their natural habitat.

Algarve scientists saving storm-damaged corals and appealing for public’s help

The researchers are collecting a type of coral commonly referred to as gorgonians, “that were stranded on the shore following recent storms, in order to transplant them back to their natural habitat”, the team explained in a statement.
Researchers said that the storms of late have ripped a large amount of gorgonian corals from the rocky seabed, and these have been washing up on shore, particularly in the area of Santa Eulália beach in Albufeira.
The species, mainly Leptogorgia sarmentosa and Leptogorgia lusitanica, were still alive when collected and are being kept and fed under controlled conditions at the marine biology station in Ramalhete, which is part of the Algarve University.
In addition to these species, the researchers have also recovered a few specimens of Eunicella verrucosa, a gorgonian commonly known as “pink sea fan” among fishermen.
The corals found had a wide array of sizes with the scientists estimating that some may be several decades old.
“These corals are extremely important to other species as their vertical and branching structure are analogous to trees in a forest, in which their three-dimensional shape modifies the physical environment (e.g., ocean currents), thereby creating favourable conditions for other species”, the researchers explained.
“In addition to providing habitat, gorgonians also function as nesting sites for various organisms, including economically valuable species such as cuttlefish”, they elaborated.
The scientists are also collecting information on the locations from where the gorgonians broke off to document the highly destructive effects of storms on coral populations, as well as for subsequent monitoring studies.
There is an international online platform (www.marineforests.com), on which citizens are invited to give their contribution to the monitoring of marine forests of seaweeds and seagrasses (i.e. marine plants) by flagging the locations where these are observed.
Researchers have now decided to expand that data collection to animal ‘forests’, including gorgonians, and are encouraging members of the public to get involved by uploading photos of corals and other marine organisms to this website, “whether they are found in the water, at low tide, or stranded on the beach outside the water”.

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Edition 1505
15 December 2018
Edition: 1505

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

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