Help us Plant a Million Corals
We have lost 25-40% of the worlds corals, but there is hope.
Most people don’t realize the importance of coral reefs, but I simply need to ask you,” DO YOU LIKE TO BREATHE?” Coral reefs and the oceans provide oxygen through phytoplankton, seaweed and algae. Coral reefs are less than 1% of the bottom of the ocean, yet they account for a good portion of all of our fisheries. It’s the habitat; it’s the underwater forest and jungle. If we lose the jungle, we lose all the organisms in it. In the span of just one generation, we have see 2 coral species go from 98% coverage in the coral reefs down to just 2%, and they are not the only ones. The good news is that there is an alternative. Through the process of microfragmentation, Dr. David E. Vaughan has been able to produce thousands of fast growing, resilient corals to be returned to our oceans.
What is microfragmentation?
The technique is basically cutting them into as small a piece as possible. Something happens to this coral when it is broken, that stimulates rapid healing and growth, from 25-40 times faster than on the reef.
Why is this important?
10 years ago, we almost needed a coral self-help group for scientists because things were going so dismal. We were disappointed about how slow the growth from an egg or a larvae really is. While the research was important, it was hard to see how growing coral so slowly could possibly make an impact to help save them. Like treading water, we would be making progress, but really not going anywhere.
The “Eureka Mistake”
The slow growth of coral seemed to make the original fragmentation a technology that would not be fast enough to make a difference in coral restoration. It was during this realization that Dr. Vaughan made his “eureka mistake”.
When moving a coral samples from the top level of the aquarium to the bottom, one of the corals had grown attached to the wall and broke apart when it was removed, not only ripping a hole in the coral, but leaving three small polyps at the bottom of the tank. His immediate thought was that those corals would not make it, and moved the broken piece to another tank, to be almost forgotten. Almost. Two weeks later, he decided to check on the broken coral and found that it had already regrown the damaged tissue! Growth that had taken 2 years had occurred in a fraction of that time. This gave him such hope that he rushed to check the other tank with the polyps to find that they had not only survived, but had multiplied and grown to the size of a dime.
After this discovery, Dr. Vaughan has continued his research to find that they can continue to cut smaller and smaller pieces of coral, down to one polyp. These small pieces of coral, when placed in proximity to each other, will grow together and fuse back as one piece. Using this method, he can grow a coral in 9 months that would normally have taken 15-25 years. We can regrow our reefs at a rate that can make a difference!
This is our plan. By planting a million corals, we can turn
the tide of our oceans and restore the reefs within our lifetime.