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Jakarta Post

Saving coral reefs

Fri, May 26, 2017   /   12:58 am
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    Freshly cut coral reefs are planted in small pots and cemented. The reefs are then soaked in a big tub for two days. JP/Suherdjoko

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    A man transports the coral reefs from the tub to the sea. The process should be done quickly to keep the coral reefs alive. JP/Suherdjoko

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    Workers board a small boat to transport the coral reefs. JP/Suherdjoko

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    Two men prepare to lower the coral reefs into the water, after which divers will plant them at the bottom of the sea. JP/Suherdjoko

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    Three divers tie coral reef stems to a platform. JP/Suherdjoko

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    A diver checks the condition of the stemmed reefs. JP/Suherdjoko

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    Divers pose after the planting stemmed coral reefs in Karimunjawa waters, Central Java. JP/Suherdjoko

As an archipelago, Indonesia is rich with pristine coral reefs. However, their existence is being threatened by destructive fishing, excessive tourism and marine accidents.

To accidents have already occurred in 2017. The first happened in the Karimunjawa islands, Jepara regency, Central Java, in February, when a vessel carrying coal hit coral reefs. The second accident involved a cruise ship that crashed into coral reefs in Raja Ampat, West Papua, in March.

Coral reefs are home to 25 percent of marine life, according to WWF.

A damaged coral reef cannot be restored to its original condition and needs at least 10,000 years to regrow naturally.

PT Pura Baruna Lestari, a private company at Sambangan Island in the Karimunjawa Islands, has tried to transplant coral reefs to speed up the growing process. Any efforts to rehabilitate and enhance the reefs are necessary, especially in transplanting coral colonies to reefs.

“We cut coral stems from their colony in the seabed and bring them to the land to cut them into smaller pieces. The little stems are planted in small pots and cemented. They are soaked in a big tub for two days and brought back into the seabed and planted in the three-to five-meter deep waters,” said Daniel Jackson, a coral reef transplant expert at Pura Baruna Lestari.

Marine Diving Club members of the Diponegoro University’s School of Marine and Fishery study transplant techniques in Sambangan Island.

“We can learn by doing instead of just [learning about] the theory. We also know the habitat and the character of coral reefs,” said one of the students, Siti Yasmina Enita.

The different kinds of corals that can be transplanted, include Acropora, Montipora, Pocilopora, Cypastrea and Stylopora, among others.

The transplanted coral reefs can grow in at least three months. Some are ready to be harvested and exported to Europe and the United States. [yan]