Kareen Vicentuan-Cabaitan

As an 8-year-old on the beach in the central Philippines, Kareen Vicentuan-Cabaitan performed her first experiment in coral reef science, harvesting a beautiful piece of coral reef and placing it on the beach for closer observation. A return visit revealed a dead lump of coral, just like the ones she had seen underwater. This put a surprised Kareen on the path to discovery - how can we keep the reefs beautiful?

For her Masters project with the Restoration and Remediation Working Group, Kareen looked at the effects of fragmentation and transplantation on the growth, survival and reproduction of Acropora muricata and Hydnophora rigida to increase understanding of coral recruitment’s role in restoration and resilience. Despite setbacks including a significant bleaching event in June 2007 and predation by Acanthaster planci (Crown-of-Thorns starfish) at the trial sites, her work, based at Bolinao, has shown fragmentation and transplantation have no significant effect on survival, growth and reproduction in H. rigida but have a significant effect on A. muricata.

“This information will increase our ability to restore these key species on degraded coral reefs, and hopefully make them beautiful for other little girls to see,” says Kareen. She does not recommend her childhood research method however…

Transplantation site, Bolinao
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