Coral explantation provides new colonies for ship-grounding sites while maintaining the complexity and diversity of the donor site. In our studies, explants included branches (Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis) and cores (Montastraea faveolata). Maintaining explants
in closed aquaria, an open seawater system, or on arrays out on the reef was compared. Closed aquaria allow controlled and potentially optimized conditions, however, diseases can quickly eliminate corals. Open seawater systems were found to be viable in the Bahamas (Lee Stocking Island), but
less successful in the Florida Keys where nearshore waters are subject to wide temperature variations and turbidity. Corals placed on arrays or directly on the reef substrate had similar survival rates that were not significantly different (M. faveolata 2.5 cm, 9 mo: array 100%, substrate
75%; A. cervicornis, 7 mo: array 91.7%, substrate 75%). We have begun to examine minimum size requirements for M. faveolata explants. Although a single apical polyp of A. cervicornis or several polyps of M. faveolata survive in aquaria, they are unlikely to do so
on a reef. In different experiments, survival rates of 2.5 and 5.1 cm diameter cores of M. faveolata on substrate were 75% (11 mo) and 86.1% (12 mo), respectively, and on arrays for 9 mo were 100% and 91.6% (inshore array) — 95.6% (offshore), respectively. With no clear differences
apparent, the minimum viable size may be smaller than 2.5 cm in diameter. An ongoing experiment is reexamining this issue with explants of differing size from the same parent colonies.
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