Coastal News

Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire Expands Capacity of Coral Nurseries

Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire (RRFB) is expanding their network of coral nurseries and restoration sites around Bonaire and Klein Bonaire, thanks to funding from the Dutch Ministry and Bonaire municipal government. After piloting a new nursery design in 2023, they’ve established several new nursery sites up and down the west coast, with more planned throughout 2024.

In the initial months of the project, RRFB has already increased its nursery coral capacity by over 20%, using corals from genetic strains that have shown resilience towards stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) and recent bleaching events. This is part of their wider strategy to boost the genetic diversity of Bonaire’s coral populations and, in doing so, strengthen the reef.

“The process of expanding our nurseries will involve both branching and non-branching corals for a total of 10 species. We’re focused on propagating species that are particularly affected by SCTLD, whose populations have become a high priority for our restoration efforts,” states Francesca Virdis, Managing Director, Reef Renewal Foundation Bonaire.

New Nursery Design

The installation of vertical ropes, a new type of coral nursery, is part of the expansion. Rope nurseries, made up of over 70 corals threaded through a single rope, are less prone to algae overgrowth and other types of biofouling. Parent corals are never removed from the ropes, allowing for faster restocking after fragments are outplanted. RRFB has already installed rope nurseries at Oil Slick Leap, Lighthouse Point, and Angel City, and plans to establish more locations in 2024. Multiple tray nurseries have also been installed, which hold several species of boulder coral impacted by SCTLD.


Tray nursery at Something Special, now located in a deeper portion of the reef, where RRFB propagates 4 boulder coral species that are highly susceptible to SCTLD. (Image credit: RRFB)

Selective Breeding and Genetic Diversity

Nurseries will hold 10 species of branching and non-branching corals of various genetic strains (aka “genotypes”). RRFB has carefully selected genotypes that have shown the highest performance after being outplanted and demonstrated resilience to bleaching events and SCTLD. They will continue to monitor the health of these corals before and after outplanting to inform selective breeding efforts. As the expansion continues throughout 2024, RRFB’s focus remains steadfast on enhancing the genetic diversity and resilience of Bonaire's coral reefs.


ECO Magazine is a marine science trade publication committed to bringing scientists and professionals the latest ground-breaking research, industry news, and job opportunities from around the world.


8502 SW Kansas Ave
Stuart, FL 34997

Newsletter Signup

The ECO Newsletter is a weekly email featuring the Top 10 stories of the past seven days, providing readers with a convenient way to stay abreast on the latest ocean science and industry news.