Gary McKenna

Coral Nurseries

Gary McKenna
Operations Manager - Reef Restoration Foundation
Fitzroy Island, Cairns, Qld, Australia

Gary is responsible for establishing and operating Reef Restoration Foundation’s coral nurseries. Having spent a number of years living and working on Fitzroy Island, he understands intimately the natural beauty and complexity of the Great Barrier Reef. Gary is passionate about coral reefs and improving the health and resilience of the Great Barrier Reef to ensure that it remains an amazing asset for his son and his children to experience.

The issue

The Great Barrier Reef and other coral reefs are facing a number of growing threats to their health and future. Local and global action can help to reduce or eliminate these threats, however right now we need direct intervention in order to regenerate coral reefs and strengthen their ability to recover from imminent threats such as rising ocean temperatures and ocean acidification.

Impact on the Reef

Coral reefs can take over 10 years to recover from being damaged and their ability to restore naturally is being further challenged by climate change impacts. This program accelerates the recovery of damaged coral reefs and increases resilience to future bleaching events through establishing off-shore coral nurseries.

Action being taken

Genetic strains of corals are collected that are naturally more tolerant of higher water temperatures than other corals. They’re collected and grown in off-shore coral nurseries adjacent to the damaged reefs to accelerate growth. After 6-12 months, cuttings are taken from growing corals and then cemented to the Reef to grow and regenerate damaged sections of the reef and strengthen resilience. Original corals remain in nurseries to re-grow, in a continuous cycle. From the initial cutting of coral, thousands of new corals can be created - a similar approach to taking cuttings from healthy plants to grow new plants. The initial pilot will commence in December 2017. Photographs are courtesy of Coral Restoration Foundation. Photographs are courtesy of Coral Restoration Foundation.

In a world where the Great Barrier Reef is being exposed to increasing threats, our purpose is to create hope and optimism through undertaking practical, tangible, bold and breakthrough solutions that will make positive improvements to the health of the Great Barrier Reef. We are really excited about establishing the first pilot coral nursery and restoration project at Fitzroy Island and starting this journey.
Stewart Christie, Co-Founder Reef Restoration Foundation

The program needs support to:

  • Expand the initial pilot coral nursery at Fitzroy Island, near Cairns, Queensland, Australia and grow the program to other suitable locations throughout the Great Barrier Reef.

Unite for the reef.

Together, we can ease the pressures that the reef faces - but we need your support to do it. Because it’s only when we’re united as Citizens, that our individual actions can come together to make a real, physical impact on the Great Barrier Reef.