Water Solutions

Coral Nurseries 

What is a coral nursery?

Just like a plant nursery, coral nursery is a collection of young coral colonies artificially grown on a processing table. The nature and goal of a coral nursery is to improve the amount of healthy hard corals on the house reef of a resort and in its lagoon.

The aim of the nursery is to grow corals large enough before they can be transplanted to other areas of a reef. Development of coral nursery requires use of broken coral fragments in the reef or lagoon without causing any damage to the reef. Once colonies are grown to a certain size, they can be transplanted and the nursery will keep supplying young and healthy coral colonies.


Our approach and methodology?

Our approach is simple and cost effective. We use local technology and materials to develop and sustain the nursery. This method ensures that nurseries can be developed and maintained anywhere in Maldives, whether it is a resort or a rural island. The first stage involves construction of a suitable “Coral Nursery table”, in which coral nubbins will be produced by means of asexual reproduction (fragmentation).

This table would be established in the lagoon. Coral nubbins are produced by means of asexual reproduction. This process involves the use of broken fragments of corals that are found in the lagoon. These corals are what is referred to as “corals of opportunities”. If they are left on the sandy lagoon, they will most likely die. Instead, if they can be consolidated on a hard solid substrate, their survival rate increases and starts growing and become a healthy coral colony.

Once individual corals starts growing and become mature, they can be transplanted to another area of the reef. Coral nurseries are a good way to involve the guests in a resort as this is a unique activity that most people do not get the opportunity to get involved. It is also a very fun and educational activity for school children.


   Coral nursery with coral nubbins


As part of the reef enhancement project, a coral nursery was established at Coco Palm Boduhithi resort in North Male’ Atoll. The coral nursery was established on specially made grow-out tables which was placed in the lagoon below the low tide levels. The aim was to produce a large amount of coral nubbins. Coral nubbins were produced by means of asexual reproduction. Broken fragments of corals that are found in the lagoon were picked up by snorkelers or divers and brought close to the nursery table in buckets filled with salt water (nursery table was established on land).

These were then fixed on concrete plugs using underwater cement. These concrete plugs were manufactured in the resort. These plugs with the attached coral fragment were then placed on the coral grow out tables where the mesh like net on top of the table hold these plugs in place. The advantage of this method is once the coral nubbins are large enough; the plug can be removed and moved to another site where it can then be attached to a hard substrate to let it grow itself. After two months, some of these plugs with healthy coral colonies were transplanted to the designed artificial reef near the spa jetty.

The first stage of this project was a success and we were able to monitor the mortality rates of the coral.

                Coral fragments collected in buckets and planting the nubbins on the table.


Currently we can develop coral nurseries in islands and resorts to suit the requirements of a particular setup. Developing coral nurseries, although is not a difficult task, involves a myriad of steps from good planning to management. In addition, it also requires fulfilling the necessary environmental requirements to obtain the permits. The steps involved are as follows:

• Initial assessment
• Technical feasibility
• Concept development
• Detail assessment and surveying for source materials
• Environmental Impact Assessment
• Implementation of the project
• Monitoring the survival rate and morbidity
• Management and continuous monitoring

Water Solutions can provide all of the above from within our company. To get more information, please contact us.

     Coral Nubbin fixed to a plug ready for the nursery table.


Developing coral nurseries has many advantages to a lot of people outlined as follows.

• It’s a sustainable way to grow corals with available technology and materials.
• Nurseries can provide healthy coral colonies to other areas of the reef requiring rehabilitation.
• Resorts can improve their house reef by having a continuous supply of healthy corals.
• Resorts can demonstrate their environmental concerns and increase the value of the resort.
• Guests can be engaged in a fun and an exciting activity of planting corals, a unique and rare opportunity to most people.
• School children can benefit from coral nurseries though increasing their knowledge on corals and the marine life.
• Resorts can include coral planting on special days such as Earth Day and Environment Day.
• Coral nurseries can be a good marketing tool for the resort by attracting media and other similar audience.

Guests taking part in coral planting. Many guests feel that such projects add value and extra flavours to their holiday experience and is not only fun but very educational as well.