Winter Garden, FL, United States
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News Article | April 11, 2016

Battered by rising ocean temperatures and this year’s powerful El Niño, many of the world’s coral reefs are slowly dying. Scientists have found that Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is experiencing the worst coral bleaching event they’ve ever seen (bleaching happens when warm water temperatures cause the corals to expel the symbiotic algae that supply the reef with oxygen and nutrients). As a result, the focus of marine biologists has moved from protecting existing reefs to finding ways to restore and rebuild them. A paper published in Environmental Science and Technology proposes a novel and low-tech method for helping coral survive: blowing bubbles through seawater. This simple technique, say the authors, could remove carbon dioxide from coastal waters and reduce ocean acidification—not the primary cause of coral death but a factor in weakening them. Other scientists, such as Ken Nedimyer, founder of the Coral Restoration Foundation, are painstakingly growing coral in nurseries made up of PVC trees and transplanting them to the wild. A joint research project by the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences and the University of Hawaii, supported by Paul Allen’s Ocean Challenge foundation, is looking at whether we can hasten the evolution of more resilient corals. Similarly, Steve Palumbi of Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station is studying certain types of coral that seem to be more resistant to higher temperatures than others, to see if those qualities can be selectively bred. Many of these efforts are essentially geoengineering, and whether they can be scaled up to preserve a significant portion of the endangered reefs remains to be seen. Corals are vital parts of the ocean ecosystem, which means humans rely on them too: 17 percent of the protein in humans’ diets comes from fish, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. So any effort to save the reefs before it’s too late is worthy of support.

Schopmeyer S.A.,University of Miami | Lirman D.,University of Miami | Bartels E.,Center for Tropical Research | Byrne J.,The Nature Conservancy | And 7 more authors.
Restoration Ecology | Year: 2012

During an unusual cold-water event in January 2010, reefs along the Florida Reef Tract suffered extensive coral mortality, especially in shallow reef habitats in close proximity to shore and with connections to coastal bays. The threatened staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis, is the focus of propagation and restoration activities in Florida and one of the species that exhibited high susceptibility to low temperatures. Complete mortality of wild staghorn colonies was documented at 42.9% of donor sites surveyed after the cold event. Remarkably, 72.7% of sites with complete A. cervicornis mortality had fragments surviving within in situ coral nurseries. Thus, coral nurseries served as repositories for genetic material that would have otherwise been completely lost from donor sites. The location of the coral nurseries at deeper habitats and distanced from shallow nearshore habitats that experienced extreme temperature conditions buffered the impacts of the cold-water event and preserved essential local genotypes for future Acropora restoration activities. © 2011 Society for Ecological Restoration International.

Nedimyer K.,Coral Restoration Foundation | Gaines K.,Coral Restoration Foundation | Roach S.,Coral Restoration Foundation
AACL Bioflux | Year: 2011

Successful mariculture of stony corals has been demonstrated extensively for the past ten to fifteen years, mostly in the tropical Pacific Ocean for the global marine ornamental aquarium market. Many different methods have been used to asexually fragment and grow branching stony corals, but all utilize a two-dimensional grow out design, primarily horizontal and affixed on some sort of disk like structure. To maximize growing surface and take advantage of the three dimensional water column space above the sea floor, the Coral Restoration Foundation has developed a novel new technique, the Coral Tree Nursery ©, which has proven to be very effective at both increasing growth over previous methods and reducing disease and damage risks from wave forces.

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