Mass culturing of living sands (Baculogypsina sphaerulata) to protect island coasts against sea-level rise
Coral reef islands have a self-sustaining mechanism that expands and maintains the islands through the deposition of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) by marine organisms. However, the human societies established on such low-lying coral reef islands are vulnerable to rapid sea-level rises. Enhancing the self-sustaining mechanism of coral reefs will become one of the required sustainable countermeasures against sea-level rise. We examined the feasibility of mass culturing the large benthic foraminifera Baculogypsina sphaerulata, which is known as “living sand.” We developed a rearing system with the key components of an artificial lawn as a habitat and a stirring device to create vertical water currents. Batches of B. sphaerulata in two different size groups were reared to examine size growth and reproduction under the culture conditions. All culture batches reproduced asexually following generations over 6 months in culture. The small-sized group exhibited steady growth, whereas the large-sized group underwent a reduction in mean size because large individuals (> 1.5 mm2) died off. Similar traits of size structure between the culture batches and natural populations indicate that our culturing conditions can successfully reproduce environments similar to the habitat of this species. Reproduction, consistent size growth, and size structure similar to the natural population indicate that the examined rearing system is viable for culturing Foraminifera at a large scale.