Our Coral Conservation and Restoration collaborative workgroup is officially off the ground! This was established with a successful collection and laboratory fertilization of elkhorn coral, Acropora palmata, spawn in Parque Nacional Natural Corales del Rosario y San Bernardo, near Cartagena, Colombia. This success was the result of the work of Colombian National Parks, all three marine aquariums in Colombia (with Oceanario as our host collaborator), one U.S. aquarium, and two universities. The group returns in September to work with another probable spawning species, Orbicella faveolata, and will work to advance scientific understanding of appropriate substrates for benthic settlement of these important reef-building species.
Collaborations - long-term, deep collaborations - are critical to building the funding and personnel resilience needed for multiyear projects. Each member has access to different funding any given year, meaning that the funding streams available help to stabilize the baseline goals, and windfalls can fund work on top of that. Planning beyond a 2-3 year grant, to 40 or 50 years or more, is what is necessary to make meaningful progress toward applied conservation goals like reef restoration or reforestation. As part of our collaborative clusters, like this one for corals, we make this concept a critical piece of our infrastructure. Having stable projects allows us to: 1) make long-term progress on the conservation outcomes and scientific advances, 2) allows for stable projects for our constituents - those reentering or bridging to stay in science - to participate in and advance their careers; and 3) build a collaborative community that allows for greater collaboration across regions and related concepts. While these collaborations start as regionally-based cores, lessons learned and those with experience from these collaborative workgroups will expand to other regions and related areas - like tropical coastal resilience work.
We are excited to serve to connect the science and conservation community to meaningful ways to continue their important work as we continue to advance and expand our core collaborative workgroup offerings. As we continue to grow, so will these field and laboratory opportunities and those for professional development and training. Sign up for our newsletter or as a volunteer to join our movement for a more flexible work environment in science.
Video: Courtesy Dr. David M. Hudson, 2022