Spain, Mediterranean Sea

Deep CORE : one of the first participatory marine conservation

projects of the Mediterranean Sea.

In partnership with our nonprofit partner

Coral Soul logo

Where does it take place?

Since 2020, we are collaborating with the Spanish nonprofit Coral Soul in the Mediterranean Sea. The Deep CORE project (Deep Coral Restoration) takes place in the Special Conservation Area of the cliffs and seabed of Punta de la Mona, off the coast of the region of Granada in Spain, an area of high ecological value that was declared in 2015. Several species of cold-water corals can be found here, including the chandelier coral (Dendrophyllia ramea) and the orange coral (Astroides calycularis), two endangered species of which little was known until now.

📸 José Macías

Why is it important to act in the region?

The ecological value of the area is unique thanks to its rich biodiversity: since 2015, the Punta de la Mona area has been declared a Natural Park. However, despite these protective measures, the area is threatened by human activities and the coral ecosystem is damaged.

On site, the nonprofit Coral Soul found a very damaged ecosystem, with hundreds of broken corals mainly due to the high concentration of abandoned fishing gear in the area. These nets and lines particularly affect the chandelier coral, which gets entangled in them. When the coral breaks, its fragment falls to the bottom, and opportunistic organisms (epibionts) cover it so that its polyps cannot feed themselves, and it gradually dies.

📸 Luis Sanchez Tocino – Universidad de Granada.

I will never forget the first time I dived in the waters of the protected area of Punta de Mona in La Herradura. I was inevitably surprised by the beauty of the seabed and the great diversity. The colours, shapes and richness of species made me fall in love with this place forever. However, despite the great value of this area, it is in danger because year after year the impacts derived from human activities have threatened the species of this coral ecosystem. A large amount of waste accumulates on the seabed, endangering the survival of the Coral Garden and all its species. Facing this serious problem, we decided to launch the project.”

 

Marina Palacios Miñambres, Local director of the project

Our mission

The aim of Deep CORE is to recover the coral ecosystem in Punta de la Mona, and the advantages are manifold. Corals are the basis of the ecosystem because a majority of marine species, in one way or another, depend on them to reproduce, feed, and use it as their home… In fact, cold-water coral ecosystems can shelter up to 29 times more wildlife compared to areas without corals. Therefore, the recovery of corals is essential to keep a marine area with such rich biodiversity healthy.

Our mission will involve (on a continuous basis) seabed clean-ups, actions to restore the coral ecosystem, as well as awareness-raising programs for locals and tourists.

📸 Javier Sánchez

“I started contributing to the project right from the beginning, contributing everything that I possibly could whether with my own hands or with my diving centre.”

 

Salva Blanco, Technical diver volunteer

 

“A friend of mine told me they needed people for deep-sea diving to restore corals, and I loved the idea.”

 

Nacho MartĂ­n, Technical and rebreather diver volunteer

 

Taking part in a project like Deep CORE allows me to use all my knowledge and experience for a concrete purpose, with visible and measurable results that have a real impact on the ecosystem, and that is very rewarding.”

 

Rafael Camacho, Technical diver and photographer volunteer

The project so far

681

corals restored

900

kg of marine debris collected

1270

locals involved in our outreach programmes

2

local universities involved in research

3

nurseries in the Mediterranean for the recovery of the most damaged corals

1

local structure accompanied by our team on a weekly basis

📸 Javier Sánchez

Our restoration techniques

As a result of various aggressions, many coral colonies break or detach from their natural substrate, therefore finding themselves in danger without any possibility of growth. These fragments, called “fragments of opportunity”, are firstly collected by our team. If they are very damaged, they will be placed on underwater tables, that we call “nurseries”, allowing them to recover and grow in optimal conditions.

📸 Javier Sánchez

Once they have recovered, these corals are transplanted back onto the seabed using a resin called “bio epoxy”. However, if the colonies are in good condition at the time of collection, they are transplanted directly onto the seabed using “bio epoxy”.

📸 Javier Sánchez

Looking ahead in terms of project evolution

By becoming the first participatory marine conservation project involving local communities in the Mediterranean Sea, Deep CORE could become a training centre of our Blue Center for future coral conservation projects in the Mediterranean region.

📸 Javier Sánchez

They trust our work

El Pais Protecting coral off the coast of Granada.
Oceanographic magazine The power of multiple small & locally managed marine conservation programmes.
B In the meantime... These divers restore a reef...