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Seven years ago, Florida’s corals started dying. The mysterious illness, called stony coral tissue loss disease, quickly decimated almost half of the state’s hard coral. Florida’s reefs are the only coral reef system in the continental US, running up the state’s Atlantic coast from the Keys to West Palm Beach. In 2018, “it became clear that without drastic intervention, these corals would face imminent localized extinction,” the Washington Post reports. To save the corals, aquariums, zoos, and universities across the country adopted rescued corals. Divers took samples of healthy coral with the hope that one day the reef will be propagated with coral that can survive the disease.
Why This Matters: While the exact cause of the disease outbreak is unknown, climate change has made coral survival more difficult worldwide. Even without the disease, Florida’s corals were under threat from poor water quality, destructive fishing practices. The level of intervention involved to save the reef shows the immense efforts needed to preserve wild systems in the face of human-caused ocean impacts.
“Anytime you’ve got warm temperatures and increases in nutrients, it kind of creates this environment that can breed bacteria and increase things like viruses in the water,” Stephanie Schopmeyer, a coral ecologist from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told the Post.
Go Deeper: Explore the beautiful photos of corals that accompany the Washington Post story here.
In Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, another human intervention experiment is taking place to save corals. The reef has lost more than half its corals in just 25 years because of intense coral bleaching events caused by marine heatwaves. Now, researchers are trying to brighten clouds and block sunlight to keep the corals a bit cooler. Preliminary results suggest that their experiment of spraying tiny droplets into the clouds works better than expected—at least at getting the particles in the clouds.
According to exclusive reporting by Nature, “Their mist machine might need to be scaled up by a factor of 10 — from 320 to around 3,000 nozzles — to produce enough particles to brighten nearby clouds by around 30%. His team’s modeling suggests that this could, in turn, reduce the incoming solar radiation on the reef locally by around 6.5%. Even then, the operation would require 800–1,000 stations to cover the length of the Great Barrier Reef.”
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor Research has found that smoke and ash from Australia’s massive 2019 and 2020 wildfires triggered widespread algal blooms thousands of miles away. The Duke University-led study reported that the phenomenon could be effective in sequestering additional carbon, but algal blooms can also be toxic and devastating to wildlife and […]
You may remember our special Earth Day interview with Friend of the Planet, Brian Skerry. Well, he’s in the news again, but this time for working on the Emmy Award-winning documentary, Secrets of the Whales. The four-part series explores the complex lives of five whale species, including orcas, humpbacks, belugas, narwhals, and sperm whales. […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer A motion rejecting deep-sea mining was largely supported by delegates at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, currently meeting in Marseille, France. The motion calls for a moratorium on extracting minerals from deep below the ocean surface, as well as reforms for the International Seabed Authority, which is responsible for […]
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