Save a Coral
Help us restore underwater forests
For every shirt you buy,
we save a coral
Gorgonian corals often get trapped in fishing nets. That's why we are helping the Benthic Suspension Feeders research group from the Institute of Marine Sciences (CSIC) to recover and restore them to safely introduce them back into their habitat.
How? Keep reading!
First of all, what is a gorgonian?
Gorgonians are colonial corals with a proteinic skeleton that usually present ramifications filled with clonal organisms known as polyps. Each one of these polyps has eight tentacles used to capture food, which is based on plankton and particulate organic matter.
Where do gorgonians live and why is their preservation so important?
Gorgonians can be found in all the seas and oceans of the world, where they occur living fixed to the seafloor. Similarly to trees on terrestrial ecosystems, gorgonians have a remarkable ecological role because they can form dense aggregations comparable to forests. Their three-dimensional structure provides habitat for many other species including fishes, crustaceans and molluscs, some of which of high economic value. These species come to gorgonian forests seeking for a place to spawn, refuge from predators and to find a higher amount of food; the same intentions a bird has when it goes to a forest.
For these reasons, the disappearance of gorgonians due to anthropogenic disturbances such as fishing and global warming also affects the other species living in these ecosystems. Therefore, if we do not preserve these marine forests, all their associated biodiversity will be lost. However, to avoid this from happening both scientists and fishermen are working together.
Credits: Montseny Maria
What is being done to preserve gorgonian forests?
Thanks to the cooperation between the Benthic Suspension Feeders research group from the Institute of Marine Sciences (CSIC) and the artisanal fishermen from Cadaques and Port de la Selva, fishing gear is being improved to make it more selective, in a way that it only captures the targeted commercial species and it complies with size normative.
There are many types of fishing gear, with bottom trawls being the least selective and most destructive ones, capable of easily cutting through almost anything inhabiting the seafloor, including gorgonian forests. In contrast other fishing gear, such as trammel nets and longlines are more selective and thus, more sustainable for the marine environment. Besides the design of more selective fishing gear, the Benthic Suspension Feeders research group also participates in the recovery of all the gorgonians that get entangled in the artisanal fishing gear, to later bring them back to the sea. Therefore, this project helps to both mitigate the effect of fishing gear on gorgonian forests and to restore them by means of reintroducing by-catch gorgonians.