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How To: Restore Reefs Wrecked By Climate Change

While Black Coral Inc. Investigates methods in the field here are some things you can do at home to help!

According to the Washington Post "Efforts to revive coral reefs have existed for decades. Traditionally, restoration has involved growing corals in the ocean, with natural growth rates per year ranging from less than a centimeter to up to 10 centimeters, depending on the species. But as the threat against reefs has intensified, researchers are introducing innovative methods to farm, grow and plant healthy corals more efficiently.

These advances include growing them in tanks on land, or using advanced techniques to boost growth rates and resiliency to the changing environment. Coral Vita’s founders say they are integrating a range of these approaches — such as cutting corals into small pieces, a process known as “micro-fragmentation — to grow corals up to 50 times faster than in nature, improve their resilience to climate change and provide large-scale restoration services through land-based farms.Coral can be particularly vulnerable to rising ocean temperatures. If the water is too warm, corals will expel the algae that live in their tissues. These algae not only give corals their vibrant colors, but also serve as a source of nutrients. Without their plant partners, corals turn white, a process known as coral bleaching, and can die over time.

Mass die-offs of coral reefs, which are also affected by disease and ocean acidification, would have far-reaching ecological, economic and security consequences, scientists say. Their demise could deplete biodiversity, eliminate a major source of food and income for people, and leave coastal areas even more vulnerable to powerful waves and extreme weather.

Climate change killed 15% of the world’s coral reefs in a decade, a recent study found!

In 2022 scientists found a new species of black coral in the Pacific!

Scientists say there are still many undiscovered species in the Pacific and caution against moving forward with deep sea mining activities. How does it profit humanity if you kill off humanity by your greed? he study by researchers at Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Smithsonian Institution and Conservation International analyzed coral samples at several museums worldwide, including the Bernice P. Bishop Museum in Honolulu.

The researchers concluded that a species had previously been mischaracterized as another type of coral but was in fact its own separate species. They named it B. pseudoalternata. It was identified among samples from not only the Pacific — including the waters surrounding Hawaii — but also in the Atlantic and Indian oceans.

That’s unusually widespread for a deep-sea coral species, said Michelle Taylor, a deep-sea marine ecologist and senior lecturer at the School of Life Sciences at the University of Essex. In an interview with Honolulu Civil Beat Taylor said the analysis was impressive for its ability to find a species that was “hidden in plain sight.”Anthony Montgomery, a marine biologist at the U.S. Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, noted another study released this week estimated that there are 22 million species on Earth, with many still unidentified.Daniel Wagner, a co-author on the study who works with Conservation International, said he and his fellow co-authors aren’t sure how old the new species that they identified is but noted that it’s not unusual for coral to be extremely aged.

Regulations to govern deep-sea mining activities are still being formulated, but some governments in the Pacific are considering supporting the industry due to its economic benefits. Wagner said he’s concerned about how mining could disturb coral and other species that may not recover. Many of the corals were collected from an area between Hawaii and the Marianas archipelago in the northern Pacific known as the prime crust zone, which has some of the largest deposits of commercially valuable cobalt crusts, Wagner said.

The prime crust zone includes “some of the oldest seafloor in the Pacific and consequently this area may have some of the thickest, most valuable crusts,” according to an analysis published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. A comprehensive survey by Canadian researchers in 2021 shows that the world’s oceans have lost about half of their coral cover since the 1950s. The International Seabed Authority is in the process of finalizing regulations for deep-sea mining. Rogers from REV Ocean thinks it’s a bad idea.

“Black corals are very slow growing and long lived and are therefore likely to be highly vulnerable to disturbance from activities like deep-sea mining for cobalt crusts,” he said.Healthy reefs have a symbiotic relationship with an algae called zooxanthellae that lives within coral tissues. Zooxanthellae is coral’s primary food source, but also saturates the structure of the coral that it uses for protection with color—typically a light golden brown, but patches of red, green or blue aren’t unusual. while studying marine creatures under a microscope, in 1879 Karl Andreas Heinrich Brandt realized that the small amber orbs lining their digestive tissues were not part of them, but a type of symbiotic algae. Brandt gave the cells the name “zooxanthellae,” which roughly means “little yellow cell in an animal.”Among the creatures in whom zooxanthellae live are coral, and in the ensuing century scientists discovered that those little yellow cells donate a whopping 90 percent of the sugar they make from photosynthesis to their coral hosts. That energy is why coral colonies—which themselves are aggregations of pencil-eraser-sized polyps—can build reefs so immense they can be seen from outer space.

When coral is stressed due to high water temperatures or other factors, it expels the zooxanthellae, its main nutrient source. As the color fades away, the remaining coral structure turns white. While this bleached coral isn’t dead, it is in a weakened state more likely to be affected by disease or infection. If environmental conditions improve and the coral is re-inhabited by zooxanthellae, its color can return. Marine biologists say corals could be entirely gone by 2050 without substantive human intervention since humans are the ones that caused the reef destruction it is up to us to stop it or share its fate in the future.

Whether or not you live near the ocean, there are many ways you can help coral. For one, seek seafood that is harvested sustainably, as such fisheries prioritize the safety of the marine environment, using methods that minimize impact and help water ecosystems everywhere (including coral reefs). Another way to be part of the solution is by fair skinned people using so-called “reef-safe” sunscreen. Many mainstream sunscreen products contain oxybenzone, a common UV-blocking chemical. But oxybenzone is toxic to corals and as such exacerbates any bleaching and erosion already underway. A quick scan of the ingredient label on a sunscreen bottle before making a purchase is a small but vital act that promotes coral health. Indeed, any way you can significantly reduce your carbon footprint (less driving, flying, red meat, etc.) helps coral survive by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. If we don’t act fast on global warming, our children may never get to see the colorful corals every previous generation of humans has been able to appreciate. That is hoe fast the reefs are disappearing


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