“Make or break” coral

Make or break coral – excuse the pun – is the process of fracturing coral for commercial farming purposes. In nature coral reproduces by releasing microscopic free floating larvae into the currents of the ocean. That has its advantages when it comes to reaching far flung destinations and propagating over a vast area around the globe. But there are limitations. When thinking of traditional farming culture as we have it on land such an approach would not yield any reasonable results. So we use the corals unique ability to grow as a group of single organisms. We know coral as a colonial organism that is composed of a number of individual creatures, connected to each other for survival. If that larger group is split in half, both colonies can survive by themselves. Coral is attached to the reef where the colony once took root and will continue to grow in place without ever moving. So we have to artificially “plant” the fractured coral on solid ground. In Aquaculture coral farming operations we take advantage of that survival ability. We use a larger coral which we call the “mother” coral and break it apart in smaller sections. Those smaller fragments are secured to a stone base where it can continue to multiply and grow. If a coral is smaller than what is ideal for survival, it expedites the process of growing the colony larger. So our fractured coral in our underwater coral farm grows faster than a mature coral in nature. Off course it is important to insure that ideal conditions are met. Various factors like the water quality, temperature and nutrient level as well as the depth where the coral is placed will affect the success of such growing operations. It takes years of trial and error to evolve a successful aquaculture operation to a level that is conducive for wholesale coral export operation. It is a steep learning curve and each professional coral farming operation has its own trade secrets and procedures to insure success. It starts with the ideal location to grow the artificial reef. Protected from storms, extreme tides, with the ideal level of nutrients in the water, at just the right temperature and depth and in a place that would allow for commercial activities. It takes skill to handle and nurture these fragile creatures so they thrive and prosper. We had our share of ‘make or break’ situations over the years before we reached our current level of productivity and results. From devastating storms, to toxic algae blooms to a two year export ban we have seen it all. Through all of it we made the best out of it. We have been and continue to grow beautiful colorful coral, just to break it and re-grow it again.

Securing of the fractured coral on the underwater growing tables