SECORE Coral Reef Conservation
Dirk Petersen – SECORE Foundation, Bremen, Germany
WAZA Conservation Projects 14003, 14004 and 14005
Coral reefs are at risk – currently, more than 200 reef-building coral species are listed as threatened under the IUCN Red List. In June 2014, the USA considered listing of 66 species as critically endangered or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Now more than ever, the international zoo and aquarium community is asked to take action to spread the word on the alarming situation of coral reefs, their threats and means to conserve and restore these key oceanic ecosystems. An increasing number of institutions have recognised this need and have been taking part in public campaigns to teach their audience; among them are zoos and aquariums that have been recently involved in setting up and running in situ reef conservation projects as part of the SECORE initiative.
Since the beginning of SECORE 12 years ago, the close collaboration of aquarium professionals and scientists has been proven to work extremely well. This collaboration has fostered knowledge and technological innovation in coral reproduction and restoration. More than 10 million visitors annually are witnessing the magic of coral spawning and are learning what zoos and aquariums are doing about coral reef conservation through the outreach and educational work of involved institutions. More people are reached through those institutions that join SECORE's annual field training and outreach workshops (more than 50 institutions from 2005 until 2014).
These events are part of three in situ conservation projects that SECORE and partners currently carry out in Curacao, Guam and Mexico. These multi-year projects aim to address four key areas for conservation: research, education, outreach and restoration. Research is carried out to establish restoration techniques using sexual coral recruits for regional key species. In workshops, international and local stakeholders are trained in restoration techniques and the general public is informed in a positive and inspiring way about coral conservation. Last but not least, the long-term aim is to transfer the initiated restoration programmes to the local stakeholders at the end of the project period.
Project Curacao has been established in 2010 by a consortium consisting of the SECORE Foundation, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, CARMABI Foundation and Curacao Sea Aquarium. The project is further supported by the Shedd Aquarium, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Georgia Aquarium and Steinhart Aquarium. Other stakeholders involved in the project include the University of Amsterdam, Penn State University and local dive schools.
Project Guam was implemented in 2013 by a consortium consisting of the SECORE Foundation, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo, Underwater World Guam, University of Guam, Nanyang Technological University Singapore and Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. The project is further supported by the Horniman Museum and Gardens and Steinhart Aquarium. Other stakeholders involved in the project include the Micronesian Divers Association.
Since 2013, Project Mexico has been set up by a consortium consisting of the SECORE Foundation, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Xcaret Park and Aquarium and Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Other stakeholders involve the Puerto Morelos Reef National Park (CONANP).