Rafael Calderón of UnderWater World holds a large colony removed from the boat ramp that he transported over to the recipient site. Photo courtesy of the University of Guam
Rafael Calderón of UnderWater World holds a large colony removed from the boat ramp that he transported over to the recipient site. Photo courtesy of the University of Guam

Marine Lab relocates corals on Merizo boat ramp

by Jonas Macapinlac
Director of Integrated Marketing Communications, University of Guam

Boaters now have fewer obstructions at the Merizo Pier boat ramp. The University of Guam Marine Laboratory was authorized by the Department of Agriculture to relocate corals from the ramp to a nearby reef.

Corals are protected by law, and a permit is required to move any coral in Guam’s waters.

“We believe that it is in the public’s best interest to move these corals,” said Celestino Aguon, chief of the Division of Aquatic & Wildlife Resources at the department. “The relocation will improve boating access and minimize damage to the corals from boats.”

Local residents have raised concerns about the corals growing on the ramp for some time, but repeated coral bleaching events made it risky to relocate them until now.

“Transplanting is stressful for corals,” said Laurie Raymundo, the Marine Lab’s acting director. “Conditions need to be right, and the corals need to be handled carefully to survive the move.”

Raymundo is an expert on coral restoration and developed a plan to safely transplant the corals to their new location. She led the effort on March 21, supported by Marine Lab students and personnel from partner organizations including The Nature Conservancy and UnderWater World Guam.

The Marine Lab has been working with government agencies to improve local capacity for reef restoration and to test new methods such as coral propagation and transplanting. This project will build capacity for transplanting, while protecting these at-risk corals.

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