The Ocean Quest programs on coral conservation embraces the approach of managing and rehabilitating coral habitats through technology. The research is built on basis of duplication of the natural ecosystems through study of its relative natural cycles. To achieve this objective studies are focused on areas crucial to coral survival. Auxiliary areas may include monitoring of water qualities, physical and biological parameters including enemies and threats to corals are included in the observations. New coral propagation techniques, technology and systems are developed along the path of our research. Our methodology is the body of our project and it shall continue to improve and conveyed to the public.
INNOVATION #1: CONCEPTS OF BIO-ACQUIESCENCE
This is the concept that allows Ocean Quest to be leader in coral propagation in the field. Using this innovation we are able to grow corals on its natural substrates. All other coral restoration projects use man-made substance as base. Man-made base like concrete, PVC or steel did not carry high aesthetic values like natural substrates. Unlike other coral propagation projects the Ocean Quest's concept rejects the use of man-made substance for our coral propagation. Substrate in our coral propagation program consists of natural live rock from the same area. To ensure that the correct substrate is chosen we have devised and include new tests and scientific terminology that we called “bio-acquiescence” test. How is bio-acquiescence different from bio-compatibility test? The answer is in the substance used. Bio-compatibility test involves materials introduced by man to the tissues of the organisms and observations are made based on tissue rejection. Bio-compatibility tests also yields inconsistent results. Bio-acquiescence test using the Ocean Quest methodology is based on substances common to the organism’s tissues and that its acceptance to it is studied. Bio-acquiescence test yields far better results as compared to bio-compatibility test and lesser risk to the organism. It is the study of natural acceptance of corals to its substrate and the rates in which it will accept and attach to them. This introduction is the first in the scientific world pertaining to corals and its environment. This test helped us pinpoint what type of substrate corals have their preference to attach to. Coral can grow faster on the right substrate and this is proven in our coral propagation programs where coral is seen to bloom well on our rocks. We also discovered that tying coral fragments onto man-made substance like PVC can cause delayed growth and in some instance the polyps will begin to contract disease, turn black and slowly disintegrate.
INNOVATION #2: OUR CORAL CATALYST - A20/EF58
Able to glue corals to wet and slimy ocean rock? Are you kidding? Nope we are not kidding. We did that using the coral catalyst that we invented and patented. The catalyst has triple functions; first it allow bonding of coral onto the wet and slimy live rocks. Second the catalyst acts as an antiseptic that prevents infection. Third the catalyst enhance calcium and carbonate buildup in the coral skeleton making it grow rapidly in the first few weeks. Coral fragging systems used in captive coral propagation is adapted to our coral propagation techniques and the methodology and substance used is modified to suit our purpose. In researching for suitable and affordable bonding material we have also make another breakthrough with the introduction of our new coral catalyst/initiator A20/EF58. Made of organic substance and minerals the catalyst is the main item in Ocean Quest coral propagation system. Our objective of bonding strength comes from the natural adherence of the coral to the substrate. The cyanoacrylate gel is only tacking the coral broodstock in place temporarily until the coral grow over it. Our test has shown that natural bonding takes place in as little as ten days after fragging. This invention is our first patented product and it will be continually researched and improved. Our latest development is this area is the new and improved formula A28/EF66 where the catalyst is also supplemented with better antiseptic properties to prevent infection to the coral tissue.
INNOVATION #3. EFFECTIVE PREVENTIVE MEASURES
Just like farming on land, coral propagation and restoration has its own challenges and pests. Those who are in the coral restoration will sometimes face big problems with algae infestations. To prevent this from happening, Ocean Quest have created a treatment that conditions their live rocks prior to propagation. Our research has developed technique to control and reduce the infestation of green hair and brown algae on the live rocks we used in our coral propagation process. Most researchers are aware that diatoms and algae can rapidly populate any bare surfaces introduced in the marine environment. To establish control over the infestation of green and brown algae we have introduce new treatment of our substrates by using the genetics of coralline. By biologically prepare our substrates with coralline treatment before attaching our corals can help lessen and prevent algae infestation. Coralline recruitment is crucial to act as medium that strengthens and bond coral colonies that forms the reef. Culturing coralline is part of our coral propagation program.
INNOVATION #4: MANAGEMENT AND MONITORING METHODOLOGIES
There are no mapping technology that is use for coral restoration. Such small areas are not conducive enough to create a mapping technology for it. Without a site map we are not able to manage our coral nursery. So we have to create a method for mapping small reef areas. We called our technique "macro mapping". Physical studies involve designing our mapping techniques and modifying existing methodologies to suit our coral propagation purposes. The process we call “macro-mapping” is introduced as micro cartography of the reef areas for purpose of managing coral planting strategies. The maps we produced are unique to our studies and are used in our planning and monitoring work. This paper describes simplified versions of our mapping process and with our training can be perfected to the highest details for general and scientific use. Macro mapping of reefs is the most practical and cost effective way to keep track of a small research site. Besides the mapping, Ocean Quest has also design their own systems of monitoring through qualitative and quantitative surveys.
INNOVATION #5: EDUCATION SYSTEMS
Finally to accomplish our mission we must convey all our knowledge to the public in form of simplified education. To fulfill this we designed and developed complete educational systems which educate the public on coral propagation techniques as well as other aspects of coral conservation. In 2013 we launch our coral propagation workshop which help fund our coral monitoring activities at the islands. When we mention "complete" education system it means it consist of student kit, teaching aids, instructor manuals, workshop strategies and practical training. With well structured education materials, training strategy and complete propagation system that goes with it is a package much needed by coral conservation to achieve broad scaled results. Everything is authentically designed and copyrighted by Ocean Quest. This is not a one-of education that last only on one sitting. The Ocean Quest education packages consist of training progression beginning from introductory workshop and up the ladder to the coral propagation trainer course. No other coral conservation organization in this country has education system as conducive as this. We received overwhelming response from many from Malaysia and abroad. As we are preparing for the coming season in 2015 we received more response from corporate bodies and institutions to work with communities to safe the reefs in our country. Which part of this development is our breakthrough? It is the simplified education that everyone can take part in it learning. When we could teach the public a simple step of coral propagation we can make large scaled coral restoration possible.