Coral Creativity

Coral Creativity

Yesterday, we talked about corals and learned some pretty amazing facts. I’m still thinking about how glad I am that humans don’t form clone colonies like coral polyps do. If you missed it, check it out here.  

Today, we want to highlight some of the amazing work that is going on around the world protecting and restoring our coral reefs. See? We promised you the good news was coming.

One success story brings us to Wasini Island off the coast of Kenya. A combination of challenges, including climate change and overfishing, had done major damage to the reefs off of Kenya’s coast. A group of 250 people, mostly women and fishermen, took part in a year long study in association with the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute. 

The group took coral fragments and farmed them in a protected nursery. After a few weeks, the budding corals were transplanted onto the damaged reefs. After a year of trial and error, the group has selected coral species with the highest survival rate and successfully restored over 3,000 corals. This success is born from the hard work and determination of a few hundred citizens with limited materials, funding, and training. 

This coral farming method is also being used in Jamaica where, in some sites, the fish populations have doubled. Hawaii is studying a different approach. By selectively breeding and exposing corals to changing environmental parameters they are practicing what’s called assisted evolution. This method has been successfully used for hundreds of years on plants and domestic animals and shows great promise for wild coral species. 

In Fiji, scientists are 3D printing biodegradable structures that secure and protect young corals as they grow before harmlessly decaying. Australia just released a study where they used underwater loudspeakers to mimic the sounds of a healthy coral reef. I am not making this up. The underwater concert was able to increase fish and other animal populations by over 50%. This is a huge development, considering many fish and invertebrates are necessary to counteract coral reef degradation. 

Lastly (for now *wink*), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced on Monday a comprehensive 15 year plan to restore over 3 million square feet of coral in the Florida Keys. 

The bottom line is coral reefs need our help and we’re stepping up. There is no easy fix, no one size fits all solution. But the fact is that thousands of scientists and citizens are working together around the globe every single day to come up with creative solutions. Most of the time it’s easier to focus on the negative facts of a situation. We will always welcome the challenge of being on the other side of that. 

Spoiler alert! There is more good news about coral reefs in your future.

Share this with a coral lover!