Author: Jessica Hudson
Scientists are developing techniques to breed super corals in hopes of building stronger reefs that are more resistant to climate change. Three major coral bleaching events have occured in the last 20 years, leading to a 50% decrease in reefs.
Corals reproduce by releasing sperm and eggs into the ocean, where they then drift on the surface of the water. Researchers gauge when corals are by following cues from a special species of butterfly fish that get excited when the brain corals are about to reproduce. They then place mesh tents over the corals. When the sperm and eggs are released, they are collected into the tents the researchers can collect and bring back to the lab.
By selecting and assisting corals reproduction, there is a higher chance of success than in nature. In fact, in nature, the corals only have a reproductive success rate of 0.2%, far too low to make up for the amount of coral that is currently dying. In a lab, the success rate is closer to 90%.
While the current state and future of coral reefs is in jeopardy, it is promising to see scientists develop ways to help the adaptation process. Hopefully by pairing this research with climate change prevention actions, we are able to slow the trauma the reefs are going through.
Countries are beginning to make moves to protect their reefs. In the Caribbean, Belize has become the first country in the world to put temporary ban on offshore oil exploration and drilling to limit the stressors and potential harm on the surrounding reefs.
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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.
Jessica interned at Planet Ark in 2018. Studying Communication and minoring in Environmental Analysis and Policy at Boston University, she spent a trimester in Sydney Australia.