CCMI reef lecture stresses coral health

Anya Brown answers questions from the public about coral reefs on Tuesday, 21 Jan. - Photo: Carolina Lopez

The year’s first lecture in the Central Caribbean Marine Institute’s ‘healthy reefs’ campaign focussed on the importance of sustaining the reefs, as well as difference types of coral growth.

Visiting scientist Anya Brown from the University of Florida presented the free lecture, ‘Coral Health: From Microbes to branches’ at the National Gallery on 21 Jan. as part of the ‘We Need Healthy Reefs’ series.

Brown has previously collaborated with CCMI scientists to study and better understand various aspects of coral reproductions and resiliency.

Her lecture focussed on the importance of sustaining healthy reefs; the different types of coral growth, microscopic algae, and corals themselves; and the research and data gathered from the collaboration with CCMI.

Brown explained the problem with studying coral disease is the difficulty in determining which pathogens are involved. Part of their research included restoring dying reefs and finding out the best way to create a coral nursery.

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She returned to Little Cayman the day after the lecture to continue her research on whether corals grow better hanging on a PVC structure or when stabilised on the ocean floor.

She explained that, as part of her research, she wants to “find out about the growth and survival of the corals we helped plant in November at five different sites. The other thing we’re going to be doing is looking for disease in corals and, hopefully, taking bacteria samples in case there are diseases,” Brown said.

Her collaboration with CCMI was a culmination of  her “dream” of working with corals from the Caribbean.

“I wanted to learn more about the Caribbean reefs, especially because so much of what we know as scientists is rooted in the Caribbean. I had this great opportunity to go to the University of Florida where they had already started this collaboration,” Brown said.

She said the public can do its part to preserve the reefs simply by not touching them, as well as reducing the use of plastics.

“Plastics, try and reduce that. I think that is a simple way of reducing your waste, but mostly when you’re diving try to avoid touching and grabbing onto things,” Brown said.

She recently received her PhD from the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia. She conducted her master’s and PhD research in Moorea, French Polynesia.

The next CCMI lecture in the ‘We Need Healthy Reefs’ series will be presented 21 April by Amy Apprill from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Apprill’s lecture, ‘Cuba’s Hidden Treasure’, will cover the coral research being conducted at Gardens of the Queen in Cuba.

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