“A Plant, an Animal, and a Microbe…

…all mixed into one” is how David Vaughn describes the biology of a coral. David Vaughn has spent his career as an aquaculture scientist developing industrial production techniques for growing oysters, shrimp, and fish. It is in the past 15 years of his career where he has turned his industrial production knowledge to coral production and restoration. Professionally, his focus has always been on production and the scale of production in aquaculture. This experience and its application to corals has proven to be essential as, all around the globe, our coral reefs are dying at an alarming rate. As Vaughn’s interest in corals developed, his focus and ambition on scale of production remained. Initially he began by growing and selling corals to the pet store market. It was Phillipe Cousteau Jr. who, after touring David Vaughn’s tanks, recommend that he turn his attention to reef restoration. Vaughn took this advice to heart and embarked on a journey to save corals from extinction. He continued to grow racks of coral fragments in a controlled environment, as he had done while serving the saltwater aquarist market, as the foundation for his future enterprise. In the course of this work, Vaughn made a discovery while moving a coral fragment. The fragment broke into smaller pieces and left, clinging to the aquarium’s wall, a small cluster of single polyps. His expectation was that this tiny fragment was a lost cause and polyps would also never regrow. None-the-less he left the polyps where they were and placed the tiny fragment in another tank and hoped for the best. To his surprise, after a few weeks, he witnessed an accelerated growth rate of the small fragment and polyps. Since this discovery, David Vaughn has replicated his initial findings and shared this technique of micro-fragmenting with other coral scientists. He was not alone in this discovery, other scientist had also noticed that small pieces of coral had a significantly greater growth rate over that of an established reef. What has separated Vaughn from his colleagues is that he is looking to scale coral restoration with the production and sale of restoration units for coral farming. Can corals be grown quickly and cheaply with Vaughn’s units? Can they be saved from extinction and reintroduced to an established natural reef? This is not clear and without addressing the underlying issue of climate change’s impact on our coral reefs all of David Vaughn’s work may be moot. All of us must take this truth to heart and take steps to mitigate the effects of climate change. David Vaughn’s career path is fascinating and if you’re interested in reading more about him, his background, and his work you can here. In Vaughn’s words…“Corals are simply an indicator and what that’s saying is, you’re next.”

Taylor Design Blog

By Nora

New Business Development / HR Director