Super coral will survive the hotter and more acidic oceans which are expected with global warming.
Scientists at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology are trying to grow a modified version of coral reefs that can withstand hotter and more acidic oceans expected with global warming.
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Growing ‘super coral’ is an effort to save Hawaii corals from death. Many previous researches suggests that unusually high ocean temperatures around Hawaii this year will likely lead to the worst ever coral bleaching in the island and it will result in the biggest coral die-off in history.
The warm water creates algae inside the coral which starves the organism and turns it white. The condition is called bleaching.
If corals go through bleaching events over and over again, they will lose their ability to recover and will die eventually.
“The bleaching has intensified and got much more serious.” Ruth Gates, director of Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology said.
The researchers are aiming to expose juvenile coral slowly to stressful waters. These coral already posses stronger traits and gradual exposure to stressful water will enable them to thrive in warm water conditions.
“We’ve given them experiences that we think are going to raise their ability to survive stress.” Gates said. Then, upgraded coral will be planted into bay and grow normally and will reproduce next year.
Talking about the severity of coral beaching, Mark Eakinm a Coral Reef Watch coordinator at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said last month.
"We may be looking at losing somewhere in the range of 10 to 20 percent of the coral reefs this year. The bad news for the U.S. is we're getting hit disproportionately just because of the pattern of the warming."
Hawaii is facing coral bleaching since 1996. But the bleaching next year is expected to be worse than ever.
“The fact that 2016’s bleaching will be added on top of the bleaching that has occurred since June 2014 makes me really worried about what the cumulative impact may be.”Eakin told The Guardian.
Ruth Gates and her team have a daunting task ahead. Having success in Hawaii does not necessarily mean that able to address marine crisis worldwide. By the end of this year, 38 percent of world coral reefs will be affected by global warming and 5% will die forever.
Nevertheless, modified coral is an evolutionary step in right direction.