reduced to a mere 4% of its original cover by HurricaneAllen . Eight years later when Hurricane Gilbertstruck Jamaica, the few recovering stands of
that had survived Allen were smashed again .Subsequent incidents of predation and disease reducedthe
population to <1% of their originallevels .Even on reefs where measures to address the rootcauses of coral decline have been implemented,
populations do not appear to be recovering,as larval recruitment is very sparse . A likelyhypothesis for a lack of larval-based recovery is thatmost of the surviving
populations areeither too young or too small to produce planula thatwould normally re-colonize reefs . Currentobservations suggest that the long-term survival of
is threatened unless root causes of decline aremore effectively addressed throughout the region, andsuccessful sexual reproduction occurs.
C. Coral Restoration Technology
Artificial reefs have been used for centuries forcreating underwater habitat and increasing biologicalactivity . Not all reefs can be restored and somecorals are more receptive to restoration than others [18,19]. In the Pacific, the coral reefs in Fiji are much moreresiliant than the reefs in the Marianas Islands .Due to the high expenses involved in restoration actionsand the variety of practices that could be used, we needinnovative but general models that will guide us inrestoring damaged habitats. The gardening of coralreefs with sexual and asexual recruits after theirmariculture
within special nursery areas may serveas such a framework for developing restoration protocolssuitable for sharing through a network of MarineProtected Areas throughout Jamaica.The
is a keystone species of critical importance to biodiversity, fisheries, and tourisminterests.
is particularly vital as fisherieshabitat due to it being the only large open-branched coralspecies of reef slope, back reef, and logoonalenvironments, so the loss of this species represents a lossto the biodiversity and essential fisheries habitat of Caribbean reefs. In the Indian Ocean transplanted coralshave been shown to enhance fish abundance anddiversity .In Tobago, West Indies,
transplantation has been done with a survival of 30-35%of the colonies eight months after transplantation. Of thesurviving colonies the growth rate ranged from 6.5 to11.7 cm year
is suitable as atransplanted coral because of its relatively fast growthrate.
D. Is Natural Recovery Likely in the Next Decade?
Many hypotheses have been proposed to explain thelack of recovery of the coral assemblages [2, 6, 15]. Oneof the most likely is the lack of sexual recruitment of themajor reef building corals in the family Acroporidae (5,23, 24, 25]. The potential for coral to naturally recovershould be examined before efforts to restore reefs areundertaken. Efforts to transplant or restore reefs areunnecessary if the population has the capacity torecovery through natural means.We have sought to determine the abundance, depthdistribution and seasonal variability of sexual recruitmentof acroporid corals along the West Fore Reef atDiscovery Bay, Jamaica. It was hypothesized that owingto a paucity of mature acroporid colonies there would below levels of larval recruitment.Recruitment patterns of juvenile corals are importantto the overall community structure of coral reefs [26, 27].Studies frequently focus on juvenile coral >1 cmdiameter called “visible” recruitment. Since thepost-settlement process may change the number of recruits , recruitment onto tiles is considered to be abetter indication of the availability of planktonic planulaethan the study of “visible” corals . As well, earlysettlement stages are more vulnerable than adults tochanges in nutrient  and sediment levels .As part of this project were are investigating thesettlement of planula on tiles placed on the reef. Small,fragmented colonies still occur and it is hoped that atleast some of the remaining coral populations are nowreasonably stable, being composed of the more resistantsurvivors of major bleaching and disease epidemics.However,
is not returning to reefswhere it was formerly common , as sexualrecruitment of
is rare or absent in theCaribbean [25, 26, 32]. Given the low levels of successful sexual reproduction of
itslong-term survival is threatened and a proactive approachmay be needed to in initiate the restoration of healthypopulations.
E. Experimental Restoration Efforts on Jamaican Reefs
With the implementation of no-take MPAs andmeasures to address the root causes of coral reef declinein several Caribbean countries, patches of increased reef health can be expected to return. Once the fish,crustaceans, and other species that positively influencecoral health have become more abundant, corals shouldbegin to fare better on the reefs. Abundant herbivorousfish populations have been shown to keep algae in check,helping enable corals to survive well even in nutrientenriched waters .Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory (DBML) andCounterpart International are working with localstakeholders including the Montego Bay Marine Park,Northern Jamaica Conservation Association and several