Regenerate the coral reef systems with Coral Gardeners
We wanted to share with you a little bit about Coral Gardeners. Titouan Bernicot, founder & CEO, grew up on Ahe, a small atoll in the North of the Tuamotu islands, where his parents had a pearl farm. When he was 3 years old, he moved with his family to Moorea, the sister Island of Tahiti (French Polynesiain) in the Pacific Ocean. Since he can remember he spend most of his time in the water, freediving and surfing, developing a deep connection with the ocean.
France is the only country in the world with coral reefs in all three oceans. 8 French communities are home to 10% of coral reefs in the world (Coral Guardian). In French Polynesia, almost all the 118 islands have coral coastal marine ecosystems (with the exception of the Marquesas Islands). These islands are not located in the famous coral triangle, but they gather nearly 200 species of corals, 1200 species of fishes and 1000 species of crustaceans. Coral reefs are, along with tropical forests, the richest and most productive ecosystems on the planet. Due to climate change the ocean water temperatures are rising and consequently (between many other negative factors) the coral reefs are bleaching.
The project was born on April-28, 2017, in Moorea. The team is composed by young surfers and fishermen nicknamed the children of the Ocean. By seeing the degradation of reefs in recent years, they have decided to take action. Young and motivated, launched a crowdfunding campaign in 2017, supported by former swimming world champion Florent Manaudou. Once achieved the objective, had press coverage in many media outlets, such as Le Parisien, Elle magazine, Le Figaro, Paris Match, amongst others. Thanks to these funds, they were able to embark on the adventure, and Coral Gardeners was officially created. Today, counts with more than 20 international volunteers, more than 7000 corals adopted and transplanted into the lagoon, and thousands of supporters, either local students, tourists or young people from all over the world. The team aims to take the project even further and launch a global movement of Coral Gardeners.
The biggest daily challenges
Coral is a unique and complex creature. From the family of jellyfish and anemones (cridarians). It resembles a tiny anemone called a polyp. Barely visible to the naked eye, a polyp builds a calcareous skeleton and lives in a colony. Each polyp in the colony contains millions of algae called zooxanthellae in its cells. These two organisms live in symbiosis. This means that while coral provides protection and nutrients to algae, they provide energy, food and oxygen to the coral. The association of all corals forms coral reefs. True underwater forests, they are home to 25% of the marine biodiversity known to date.
We are increasingly facing coral bleaching events. When the seawater temperature rises, it can upset the symbiosis between the coral polyp and its algae. The algae becomes toxic for the polyp which therefore expels it. As it is the algae that gives the coral its colour, colonies lose their colours to adopt that of the limestone that makes up the exoskeleton of polyps: corals whiten. If the situation lasts for too many days, as it will be the case more and more often due to global warming, corals die.