The Saipan Coral Nursery Pilot Project (SCNPP) is the first coral nursery in the CNMI and is intended as a pilot study to test and document various restoration approaches and species performance, and eventually provide practical regional guidance for upscaling. This project builds on the existing nursery project in the Saipan lagoon that started with the deployment of an initial 10 trees and 400 coral fragments in 2019, then increased to 20 trees and approximately 800 fragments in 2020. In 2021, the project team completed another round of environmental compliance consultations and recently received a new US Army Corps of Engineers permit to upscale to as many as 40 trees and 10 table structures.To date, 99% survivorship has been achieved within the nursery including exceptional growth rates for the ESA-listed coral species Acropora globiceps. Other species currently being propagated within the nursery include Acropora abrotanoides, Acropora globiceps, Acropora pulchra, Acropora muricata, Acropora surculosa, Acropora tenuis, Goniastrea retiformis, Pocillopora grandis, Pocillopora woodjonesi, Porites lobata, and Stylophora pistillata. Outplanting has been completed at three sites including two within the shallow waters of Saipan lagoon and one on the forereef.The progression of the Saipan Coral Nursery Pilot Project has also been documented as a Holling's Scholar story map since 2019 (https://arcg.is/1m8Woy).
Outcome ProductsThis project will continue to have multiple outcomes that include deliverables across multiple platforms. It will physically produce and maintain nursery structures (both tables and trees), propagate corals and integrate new corals at the nursery site, and produce at least one out-planting activity each year by moving corals back into their native environments. This project will also produce extensive data, monthly progress reports, and analysis documenting growth rates and environmental conditions to catalog the performance of various nursery methods across a range of coral species. The project is also expected to generate an updated story map each year, creating a public interface to share the progress and key findings from the SCNPP effort.Contribution to Management and ConservationAs the first coral nursery effort in the CNMI, and the first coral nursery effort in the region to work with an ESA-listed coral species, we expect the findings of the pilot study to help inform restoration plans and active restoration efforts throughout the Pacific. Extensive data is being collected that requires regular reporting and public sharing. A variety of field methods will continue to be tested within the nursery and as part of outplanting activities to identify approaches that will translate best to the upscaling of future nursery efforts. A community component includes sharing results with the public and local media, integrating students, collaborating closely with CNMI agencies, and circulating results broadly to other practitioners to help in planning, environmental compliance requirements, and execution of other restoration activities within the region.
- Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands