The earth still has around 74% of our coral reefs left. The continuously growing human population, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, unethical fishing methods, water pollution, sedimentation and other human activities are destroying the marine environment quickly. It’s highly significant because 25% of marine animals live and where 90% of them rely on for one reason or another.
Coral reefs support more species per unit area than any other marine environment, including about 4,000 species of fish, 800 species of hard corals and hundreds of other species. Scientists estimate that there may be another 1 to 8 million undiscovered species of organisms living in and around reefs (Reaka-Kudla, 1997).
For us humans, the complex biodiversity is considered key to finding new medicines for the 21st century. Many drugs are now being developed from coral reef animals and plants as possible cures for cancer, arthritis, human bacterial infections, viruses, and other diseases.
But, here’s some great news about one man’s happy accident that has provided hope to the recovery of coral reefs around the world.
Dr. David Vaughan stumbled upon the groundbreaking discovery as he was working with corals at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Florida. He had been trying to remove a coral from the bottom of a tank when it broke into a dozen pieces.
To his shock, all of the pieces regrew to the same size in just three short weeks, as opposed to the three years it had taken to grow the original coral.
Ordinarily, it takes coral reefs between 25 to 75 years to reach sexual maturity. This means that it can take up to 6 years just to plant 600 coral – but Vaughan’s process of breaking up corals for reproduction, which is called “micro-fragmenting”, helps them to grow 40 times faster than they do in the wild.
Furthermore, their tests showed that it works with every single species of coral found in the Florida Reef.
In fact, the method is so efficient, the researchers are reportedly producing coral faster than they can get tanks to hold them.
Vaughan’s team now plans on planting 100,000 corals on the Florida Reef Track by 2019. The researchers also plan on sharing their method with conservationists around the world so they can collectively plant one million corals within the next few years.