Coral gardens represent an innovative way to conserve endangered coral species  
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Ecological Excursions
Center Featured Program:

Rural Clinic of


Integrated Coastal Management

Turtle Conservation

Lobster Casitas

CPR Fishing

Coral Gardens

Lionfish Control


Coral reefs are amongst the oldest living structures and are considered to be one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, second only to tropical rainforests. However, reefs worldwide are continuing to degrade and decline, often in massive sporadic events. One example of a massive decline is that of the Acroporid corals, Acropora cervicornis (staghorn) and A. palmata (elkhorn). Populations of Acropora have decreased substantially over the last three decades; over 90% of their 1970s baseline has disappeared. As a result, these two Acropora species were listed for protection under the United States Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 2006 and are now considered “threatened” with extinction.

In 2004, in an effort to protect these endangered Caribbean Acropora species, the Foundation paired up with the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and Counterpart International to develop an in-water pilot “Coral Garden” nursery in one of Punta Cana’s protected areas. The goal of the Coral Garden is to help reverse degradation using a hands-on approach, preserving existing coral populations by growing them in nurseries.
Originally material was collected from existing colonies and then propagated in underwater nurseries on rope and metal frames. Later, as the corals grew, the frames were pruned and the coral fragments outplanted back onto the reef.

The Punta Cana Coral Garden program has grown to become the second largest coral nursery in the entire Caribbean and now includes additional nurseries in Punta Rucia and Sosua, Dominican Republic. The Foundation has a full-time staff working on the project and has led workshops and volunteer opportunities to help promote the project in other tourist destinations in the country.

get involved

PUNTACANA Ecological Foundation, Dominican Republic
Tel: (809) 959-9221 - Fax (809) 959-8483