efe-epaVeracruz, Mexico

The largest coral reef system relocation in the history of Mexico has been completed off the coast of the southeastern port of Veracruz, achieving an 85 percent survival rate.

A group comprised of 153 people - mostly coastal fishermen and women - relocated 48,000 coral colonies and more than 400,000 marine organisms, such as sea cucumbers, urchins and anemone

The Punta Gorda Sur and Bahia de Vergara coral reefs in Veracruz's Reef System National Park - which is part of the Man and Biosphere Program Global Network - have been relocated some 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) from their original location.

To achieve this feat, 120 fishermen, as well as oceanographers, biologists and medical doctors, made 3,000 open-sea boat trips - each lasting between 60 and 90 minutes - over the span of six months.

The project to save the coral reefs in the 65,516-hectare (161,900-acre) national park was in part due to the decision to expand the port of Veracruz, an endeavor launched in 2014 and which is expected to be completed by 2030.

"It felt good, because we were rescuing something that was going to be lost," octopus fisherman Bernardo Hernandez Guzman, who learned to dive and breed coral amid heavy swells, told EFE.

Environmental authorities in Mexico have implemented 91 measures and 12 qualifying clauses for the preserving and paying for the ecosystem - including saving the coral reefs - as part of the plan to expand the port.

Veracruz's Integral Port Administration, the institution responsible for the project, has allocated 100 million pesos ($5.3 million) to the environmental measures, which will be overseen by institutions such as the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the National Polytechnic Institute and the University of Veracruz.

The Veracruz Reef System - which gained national park status in a 1992 decree by President Carlos Salinas de Gortari - is approximately 10 million years old and is comprised of six reefs off the coast of Veracruz and 11 more in Anton Lizardo, 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) southwest of the port.