Spain

S.O.S. Corales : the first participatory marine conservation

project of the Mediterranean sea.

Where does it take place?

Since 2020, we are collaborating with the NGO Equilibrio Marino on the project called S.O.S. Corales in the Mediterranean Sea. The project 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.

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 Equilibrio Marino 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.

Our mission

The aim of this project 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.

The project so far

356

corals transplanted

378

kg of marine debris collected

42

local divers involved

3

local universities involved

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.

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”.

Looking ahead in terms of project evolution

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

They trust our work

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