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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Caring for Coral, an update

Caring for Coral, an update

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Tuesday, June 21, 2016/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, video, marine life, sustainability, environment

                                Coral Bleaching Diagram: (credit NOAA, NatGeo, & Oceana)

It was World Oceans Day recently but there wasn't much joy to celebrate for coral reefs worldwide including the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland, Australia. It's too early to say how much permanent damage has been caused by high water temperatures and other enviornmental stresses that triggered the coral bleaching but several projects are in progress to help coral recovery efforts.

Besides the recently announced large scale CORAL mapping program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, efforts are undeway to better understand the phenomenon know as "coral spawning". These mass reproduction events are closely timed to seasonal and lunar phases and could provide key information on reef resilience and if heat tolerant coral species can repopulate depleated and bleached reefs. Coral spawning is shown here:

Likewise, international educational efforts to distribute new information to other researchers, policy planners, and the public are in progress. Meetings such as the 2016 International Coral Reef Symposium, now underway in Hawaii provide scientists from many marine disciplines the opportunity to a share their coral research while other efforts offer insights from marine "bright spots" as examples to show how reefs can be managed sustainably.

Finally, local government and tourist agencies are taking directed action to reduce other stresses such as sediment runoff onto reefs from farms and ranches. Serious concerns for maintaining the health of the Great Barrier Reef moved the Queensland Government to buy out a large cattle station to prevent soil eroding off degraded lands and smothering the reefs.

These are just a few examples of the myriad of efforts that will be required to protect, restore, and sustain these amazing marine ecosystems.



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