In awe of recent discoveries scientists agree: it takes a super coral to save reefs. This decision has been adopted after marine experts have discovered that increasingly more coral reefs are dying as a result of bleaching.
A team of researchers from the University of Hawaii, Manoa has carried out various studies on the condition of coral reefs. They have discovered that great part of the reef population is suffering from bleaching, a process that could soon lead to all corals’ death.
Bleaching is generally caused by pollution and climate changes. Scientists have noticed that bleaching becomes more obvious as sea temperatures rise and waters become more acidic. These two factors cause corals to expel specific algae that continue to live inside the corals. The latter become suffocated and their colors are gradually discolored until they become just white or yellow.
In spite of the somber future perspectives, researchers still think there is hope. At a closer look, they have discovered that there are certain corals that have maintained their color, regardless of the harmful environment they live in. This discovery has got scientists thinking whether there are genes they could borrow from the strong corals and, thus, improve the condition of the frail ones, too.
As a result, marine biologists have looked at the structure of the brown corals and have confirmed us that the latter are, indeed, stronger than the others. Now, they are working to recreate super corals on their 29-acre facility on the Coconut Island by crossing the strong breeds with the weaker ones.
This process is achieved by exposing the newly created corals to increasingly more acidic waters as scientists expect sea waters to become in a few decades. Researchers mix strains together in an attempt to promote resistant genes. So far, experiments have had very good results and biologists hope their method will help preserve coral reefs round the world.
Scientists will only know if their method has been effective or not when they will transplant the super corals into the bay and see that they have maintained their natural colors. Like with any other transplantation, scientists estimate that some super corals will resist in the bay, while others will die.
Yet, it is important to see the glass half full and to celebrate even the smallest victory that researchers make. Their work is very important considering that 60 to 80 percent of world’s coral reefs are now suffering from bleaching.
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