These breakthroughs are so exciting. As I mentioned before, traditional ocean-based coral farms like the one I described from Mauritius can only grow a select number of fast-growing species. This misses out on a swath of critical species diversity, especially when considering the functionality of some for sheltering coastlines from storms or promoting fish habitat. One of our advisors is Dr. David Vaughan, who while at Mote stumbled upon a method known as microfragmenting that lets us know grow slow-growing corals in months rather than the decades they’d take in the wild. All while using natural healing properties from within coral to accelerate their growth!
At the same time, we partnered with the late great Dr. Ruth Gates, who helped pioneer the field of ‘assisted evolution,’ which is developing ways to strengthen coral resiliency to threats like warming and acidifying oceans. Our land-based farms not only let us integrate microfragmenting, but also control the growing conditions in our tanks. Through this, we can for example mimic future temperature projections and train our corals to withstand oceanic changes. And such methods have already been shown by others to increase the survivability of corals grown for restoration.
By combining microfragmenting with assisted evolution with our commercial model, we can now grow more diverse and resilient coral in 6-18 month growing cycles, vastly improving the impact, cost, and scale of reef restoration.