Dexter dela Cruz
Coral gardener Dexter dela Cruz, Bolinao

Masters student and underwater gardener Dexter dela Cruz is working with the Restoration and Remediation Working Group to compare success rates of nursery reared versus directly transplanted coral fragments in the Bolinao reef complex.

Inspired in childhood by a cartoon show about a marine biologist and her pet killer whale, Dexter is cultivating (literally) his interest in the field with the CRTR program. Now a marine biologist himself, Dexter’s study involves assessing the growth and survivor rates of two common corals in the Bolinao reef system (Echinopora lamellosa and Merulina scabricula) following different rearing methods in an effort to ascertain the most efficient transplant techniques.

The first experiment compares the growth and survival of wild nubbins that are maintained in a field nursery versus those that are transplanted directly to experimental bommies. The second experiment compares nursery-reared coral nubbins with similar-sized fragments collected in the wild.

“We have had a few challenges in the project – storm damage to trial sites, and infestations by snails and Crown-of-Thorns starfish,” says Dexter, “but that’s life for coral reefs in the Philippines!”

“Our coral gardening project will make restoration work more viable, and ultimately help the reefs to meet the challenges they face.”

Rope nurseries, Bolinao Reef (D dela Cruz)
Measuring P. damicornis (D dela Cruz)


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