The ‘Plant a Coral’ programme, developed by a team of the Centre of Marine Sciences (CCMAR), encourages people to adopt a coral in order to help fund research on the Portuguese coast. The initiative, which is coordinated by the investigator Márcio Coelho, besides raising awareness about the study itself, also aims to improve the literacy about the oceans as well as the collaboration with local fishermen.

According to Márcio Coelho, the program aims to enable people to adopt specimens which are accidentally caught by the fishing nets. As he explained, “The objective is to try to rescue as many corals as possible with the collaboration of fishermen and offer them for adoption. Therefore, people can adopt the corals that we rescue and the money is then used to finance projects.” The researcher also emphasized, that the CCMAR work, together with the help from the fishermen, has managed to “map diversity and identify ‘hotspots’ of diversity that could become considered for protection statuses”.

Having established the coral adoption program ‘Plant the Coral’, as a way of funding the study, the researchers are working to identify genetic diversity and conduct studies on reproductive biology and thermal tolerance - a crucial step in regards to the restoration of “habitats". Márcio Coelho has highlighted that it is important to remember that corals do not only exist in tropical waters, but temperate and cold waters as well. As he explained, “It is a wrong perception and it is a perception that we are trying to change, creating awareness that coral habitats exist all over the world.”

Up until now, CCMAR's efforts to advance scientific understanding of corals along the Portuguese coast have been concentrated on the regions of Sagres and Albufeira. Nevertheless, as the researcher confirmed, there is "the intention of expanding it" to other locations, including Cascais. Corals can also be found in Arrábida, Cabo Espichel, and Sines. They prefer rocky environments and "play a role equal to that of plants in the terrestrial environment," he said, assisting in the capture of carbon and forming "authentic marine forests" that encourage the "colonization of many other organisms."