In just two years, a reef restoration project has grown and planted 100,000 corals, putting it on-track to its goal of planing a total of 1 million corals around the globe.
Founded by Dr David E. Vaughan, the Plant a Million Corals Foundation uses a technique called 'micro-fragmentation' to grow coral 20 times more quickly than it grows in nature.
The method was discovered accidentally by Dr Vaughan during another coral experiment. It works by breaking coral up into small fragments and placing them side-by-side in water nurseries known as coral restoration units. As they grow, these fragments merge together to produce fast-growing and resilient corals.
This method grows coral in 1-2 years instead of the 15-25 years that it would usually take in nature.
“What makes this so revolutionary is that coral behaves according to its size, rather than its age,” Dr Vaughan told Forbes.
In nature, coral grows as it ages and most established coral reefs are between 5,000 and 10,000 years old. With climate change having devastating effects on the world's reefs, coral-growing technology is one way we might restore these critical ecosystems.
“The coral reefs have become one of the first signals of stress through high temperatures causing bleaching and excess CO2 (carbon dioxide), making the oceans more acidic,” Dr Vaughan says.
“Both of these, and other stressors, have caused corals around the world to be lost at an alarming rate. Their loss would be devastating directly for the approximately 500 million people who rely on reefs for food and livelihoods.”
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