Cozumel, Q.R. — The Cozumel Parks and Museums Foundation has expanded its reef restoration program by planting 350 coral gametes in Punta Sur. The Fundación de Parques y Museos de Cozumel (FPMC) says the program that they carry out with Oceanus AC and the Cozumel National Park, sowed 350 coral gametes for the first time.
The coral that was planted in Punta Sur came from the laboratory of the Institute of Sciences of the Sea and Limnology of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Puerto Morelos.
Rafael Chacón Díaz, Director of Conservation and Environmental Education (CEA), explained that there are currently more than 2,000 fragments of which 1,500 are found on the Chankanaab coastline and 500 in Punta Sur.
He explained that the head of the UNAM laboratory, Anastazia Teresa Banaszak, along with researchers, developed a restoration method that allows collecting coral gametes (their reproductive cells) to fertilize their eggs and create new corals for their preservation.
He says the method has become a unique project that does not clone coral, but instead, reproduces them with their genetic material, which is why they are called sexual recruits.
Chacón Díaz indicated that recently, representatives of Oceanus and the UNAM Laboratory visited the island to sow, together with the FPMC, 350 sexual recruits in the Punta Sur reef area with funds from the State of Quintana Roo government.
He added that the technique that had been used for the restoration of corals had been asexual, using coral fragments to “clone” them. If they survive, they adhere to the seabed and can form a new colony separated from the one that gave rise to them and these new colonies are “clones”, genetically identical.
Sexual reproduction consists of producing new corals, that is, they are genetically unique since being the product of a combination of two different individuals, their DNA is different which is a great advancement in the restoration of coastal ecosystems, he explained.