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Coral Reef Hope

Posted on February 16, 2017 by Matt Tomasino There have been 0 comments

Sure, you may often hear of the many failures of humankind’s affect on the planet but there are also many successes. Albeit some of these successes are repairing human failures such as closing the ozone layer, utilizing solar energy and now possibly reversing the demise of our ocean coral reefs.

Regardless of what some say about climate change, the world is getting warmer and if our current governmental administration goes the way it is going, adaptation may be our only choice. Therefore, pioneers of environmental healing include Dr. David Vaughan, Executive Director of Mote Marine Laboratory’s research facility in the Florida Keys who has suspended his retirement  to continue growing coral. That’s right, growing coral.

The Coral Reef Threat

As the environment warms beyond human ability to reverse it, ocean acidification is occurring. This is when, according to the National Ocean Service,

“As temperatures rise, mass coral bleaching events and infectious disease outbreaks are becoming more frequent. Additionally, carbon dioxide absorbed into the ocean from the atmosphere has already begun to reduce calcification rates in reef-building and reef-associated organisms by altering seawater chemistry through decreases in pH. This is called ocean acidification”

Coral reefs are like the yard and garden of the sea. They are relied on to create a,

“...home to a quarter of all marine species: crustaceans, reptiles, seaweeds, bacteria, fungi, and over 4000 species of fish make their home in coral reefs. With an annual global economic value of $375 billion, coral reefs provide food and resources for over 500 million people in 94 countries and territories.” (Columbia University)

In addition, land plants produce about one-third the oxygen we need while the rest comes from the ocean. As coral reefs are affected by ocean warming, pollution and human decimation, the air you breathe remains in jeopardy.

It is up to us to slow climate change as well as reduce environmental pollution but until this is achieved, scientists like Dr. Vaughan may be buying us time.

Unexpected Growth

Dr. Vaughan decided that before he packed in his long career as a marine biologist he would try something he had been thinking about, actually the unthinkable. It was a move that if successful would create a new, sustainable approach toward saving coral reefs. If he failed he would be destroying coral which cannot spared.

He broke up live coral specimens and “planted” them to see if they would grow. Co-workers and other scientists warned Dr. Vaughan of this attempt, as he knew himself, that coral is very health sensitive and any minor stress put on this essential living species would cause it to die. Instead, the opposite occurred.

Dr, Vaughan set up water simulators that would predict ocean environments one hundred years into the future and placed the small coral samples in each tub. He also planted some samples in real time ocean locations. It turned out that with specific care and nutrition all pieces of coral began to “grow like the dickens” according to Dr. Vaughan who continues, “People think they ruined this planet with technology, but with technology we can bring it back.”


With such a critical ecosystem on the line this growth is creating much excitement in the hope for restoring coral regression and, essentially, saving the planet. Researchers like Dr. Vaughan are the real heroes of today and hopefully the new generation of behind them will agree. As more scientists jump on board and more lay people become socially conscious of preserving current coral reefs, there may be a chance this global problem can be reversed.

This post was posted in Green Living, Politically Green, The Air We Breathe and was tagged with carbon dioxide, climate change, coral reefs, Dr. Vaughan, global warming, Mote Marine Laboratory, ocean acidification, oxygen, SOCIALLY CONSCIOUS, SUSTAINABLE


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