Restore Coral in the Mayan Reef

Latest update January 31, 2019 Started on January 10, 2019

50% of the Mesoamerican Reef is located in Mexico, receiving over 15 million visitors every year. Restore Coral is paving the way towards Sustainable Tourism in order to protect the 2nd largest coral reef system of the planet.

January 10, 2019
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Dr. Anastazia Banaszak talks to Restore Coral and Amy Frueh (sculptor for an upcoming barrier reef project) about her preferences for substructures. Anastazia shows us a new technology of 3D PRINTED CORAL SUBSTRATES, developed by Dr. Dirk Petersen @SECORE, and talks about some of the interesting findings:

  • In general, Anastazia has found that the baby corals have a higher rate of survival in the "nooks" or notches seen in the video. These nooks, Anastazia believes, may provide the young corals safety from predators.

  • Another interesting lesson learned is: the corals have a higher survival rate on structures that HAVE A SMOOTH FINISH. Contrary to our initial hypotheses, Anastazia has found that the corals show a tendency towards a substrate with a smoother surface. Anastazia makes the surfaces smoother by applying a thin film of diluted porcelain to the object.


We are going to host an event in Tulum on the Anniversary of the MesoAmerican Reef Day (MAR-DAY)!

Event details to come soon, but the general break down:

Friday, March 8. Kick off. Presentations from multiple organizations and people working on restoration of the coral reefs. The purpose of this event is to bring all the best technology and practices to the forefront of Reef Restoration in Tulum.

Saturday, March 9. Workshops. This day will be dedicated to education, training, and engagement with the locals in Tulum. Those people who are getting PADI certified will finish their training today.

Sunday, March 10. Anniversary and Coral Restoration. Today, we all travel to Cozumel and help clean/plant coral at the Coral Reef Restoration Lab near Sand Dollar Sports!

In The Field

An interview with Rodolfo, alongside local fishermen in Quintana Roo, Mexico...

"I found something new I can dedicate my life to fully.

"We have been swimming in these water for 25 years. The amount of fish and coral… just aren’t there anymore. It is over half dead. But it is still alive.

“In the past, we go out and we come back with 10 kilos of fish. But every day we are coming back with less kilos."

"The problem is," the captain said, “we are finding no fish out there. This is not something we think will happen in 10 years, it is something that is happening right now.

“We don't have the technology for what we have to do, but we have the wheel. We have boats, we have time, and we have the will... We can grow the coral and then we can go out and plant it. We are standing up!

“We are willing and ready to take the next step. We are fishermen - our jobs have to be in the water. We have 12 families here that rely on fishing - if you tell them that the new job is planting coral, they will go so fast to clean it. There are young people here with all their life ahead of them. If we give those 12 families another way, they are ready. If we came 10 years ago to tell them this, they would not believe us. Because there was abundance in the ocean. But now there is not.

"Right now, what we would like to do, is set up a way of working that we can stop doing the fishing and taking things from the reef, and start putting things back. What we are expecting from people like you is the technology, the support, and the know how. We will do the work.

"We have the wheel, we have all the equipment to go fishing. We would like to have a place where we can grow the coral, and we need the tools to clean the coral."

L E T ' S . S H A R E . T H E . K N O W L E D G E .

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Hey guys! Team Leader for Expedition Wonderland here and I wanted to offer my lens for any underwater photography that I can assist with. I shoot a D800 and would love to lend a hand for some nice warm saltwater dives occasionally!

Interview with a local, Carlo, about Sustainable Eco-Tourism

"The cruise ships are a great income for the island. Cozumel lives on diving. We have so many divers, if each one of them gave one dive or two dives to try and help here…. that would be awesome!"

John, the owner of Sand Dollar Sports, have paired up with cruise ships to take tourists under the ocean and help our local scientists with the restoration of Cozumel's reef.


As it turns out, piloting the drone while ON TOP of a kayak at sea is more difficult than it seems. First, the currents are a hassle. And then there's the wind - which pushed me far, far away from the area of interest. I had to ask one of my divers to hold my kayak steady while I drove the drone. Also, the SUN! It was blinding. And my phone got wet. I should get one of the analog controllers for the drone (rather than using a touch-screen phone) because my wet hands kept causing the UI to slip. Finally, random tourists would jump on my kayak or pull on the tether. It was a learning experience, to say the least!

Next time I'm out in the open ocean, I am having a second person on the kayak with me. No doubt.

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Recently, there was a music festival in Tulum that had a theme of coral restoration. The event is called the Y'am Festival (Y'am means ocean in Hebrew) and it was held at Habitas resort. My favorite parts about this festival were:


  • A virtual reality immersive experience
  • Helps sensitize the public about the need to protect coral reefs.
  • People learn and discuss how to increase sustainable ocean related activities


  • An immersive installation of video mappings presented by Radio Tulum.
  • More than just a platform for artists, teachers, free thinkers and visionaries, Radio Tulum has become a movement in itself bringing the world to Tulum and Tulum to the world.


  • Every Y'am Tulum ticket, will come with a personalized certificate of coral adoption.
  • The adoption of corals helps the restoration of the reefs in Mexico to encourage the increase of coral reefs.
  • Festival goers could buy a coral pin for $50. The proceeds of this pin would go into developing and planting a new coral specimen.

This underwater drone is helping German, a local coral expert, restore 1,000s of baby corals to the Mayan Coral Reef. We are very happy to be able to utilize new technology in clever methods around the world.

One neat idea that a local had was: during the optimal times for coral feeding, we want to use the ROV's bright lights to illuminate the coral. The phytoplankton that the coral eat are attracted to light - perhaps this may bring more food to our growing coral babies! More updates on this hypothesis coming soon.

Pictured in these photos are: Stephen Rodan, German Mendez, John Flint, and Ana Gil, and Roberto Cerda

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In The Field

Scientists, volunteers, and (now) tourists can assist the restoration of coral reefs in Cozumel, Mexico! What a great way to engage an industry (tourism) that relies on the beauty and health of our ocean's treasure for it's income.

There are different techniques for coral restoration. One that is new in Mexico is called Assisted Reproduction. We empower the locals to learn how to perform the Assisted Reproduction. Cozumel is the second site in overall Mexico that does it.

I love the inclusion of art in Cozumel's coral garden. It is like a Scientist's Underwater Playground, and I could not be happier to see these little corals grow! My heart swells.

Now! Come one, come all - get out there and plant some coral!!

Expedition Background

Restore Coral, is the integration of the latest assisted coral reproduction techniques and coral reef technology with a scalable market based solution that allows Academia, Civic Society, Private & Public Sectors to participate and collaborate on the coral restoration of the Mayan Reef.

By engaging these sectors through a Reef Alliance for the purpose of replanting corals we can achieve the following:

  • New stock of biodiverse Corals for the already naturally protected areas.
  • Research and education of the best methods of replanting coral.
  • Development of emerging technologies such as robotics and A.I for the landscaping of marine ecosystems on an industrial scale.
  • A Coral resilience program that includes cryogenization and coral genomes R&D with the goal of ocean geo-engineering.
  • The spread of this coral farming knowledge around the world.
  • Participation of universities and students for coral restoration in professional practices.
  • Local communities participating in the construction of coral farms and artificial coral reefs.
  • The creation of cooperatives responsible for taking drivers to underwater farms.
  • An educational and transformations experience for tourists.
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