Two Australian scientists have come up with a radical plan to try and save the world’s coral from bleaching.
Since 1950 an estimated 19 per cent of corals worldwide have died and rising sea temperatures as a result of global warming is accelerating the rate of bleaching,
So, Ruth Gates and Madeleine van Oppen, of the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences, have come up with a daring but controversial plan to save the planet’s coral reefs.
Their idea? Protect corals from rapid climate change by artificially speeding up their evolution.
Gates says some corals are more resilient than others because of the specific microbiome makeup of each coral.
“Corals are crazy,” Gates, who is now the director of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology told the BBC. “They’re fascinatingly complex organisms.”
The pair say that if more resilient corals could be taken to reefs that are dying, it is possible we could save other corals.
“We have pushed the [eco]system too far,” Gates says, “And we now have to intervene in a really proactive way.”
If they are successful, it is not just the corals themselves that will benefit. Corals provide physical and ecological support for a third of all marine life.
They are what ecologists call “keystone species” – their health is vital for the wellbeing of countless other species including humans who rely on healthy fish for food.