Since the 1970s, global coral populations in an alarming rate decreases. Rising temperatures are responsible for, rising levels of carbon dioxide in the water, diseases and pollution. Now, countless coral species from extinction are threatened, and the situation is deteriorating steadily. SECORE scientists managed to encourage the multiplication first artificial coral of an acutely endangered coral species in nature. The method could be applied to save damaged and endangered coral populations.
The coral, which the SECORE reef ecologist Valérie Chamberland has taken on her team, is the Elkhorn coral brain, which is acutely threatened by extinction in the Caribbean. The corals protect the reef from storms and provide shelter for several species. Who doesn’t remember ‘Finding Nemo’?
The researchers aimed to develop a method to help the corals. Currently, many projects rely on the so-called “coral gardening. These fractions of coral reefs are harvested, again pulled up and then returned to the reef. This method reduced the genetic diversity of the reef. Populations with restricted gene pool have difficulties to adapt to changing conditions and are therefore also more threatened by extinction.
The team has collaborated with the University of Amsterdam and the Carmabi research station collected sex cells of corals. These were then stimulated to multiply in the laboratory. The scientists coral embryos that did come up in a year-long process received as a result. After this process, the young coral have been re-integrated into the population of the reef.