New coral reef restoration technology aims to reverse climate change damage

Marine scientist Deborah Brosnan remembers “feeling like a visitor at an amazing party” on her diving journeys to a bay close to the Caribbean island of Saint Barthelemy the place she swam above coral reefs with nurse sharks, sea turtles and numerous colourful fish.

But on a return journey after Hurricane Irma ravaged the island in 2017, she dove the reef once more – and was shocked by what she noticed.

“Everything was dead,” she recalled in an interview with Reuters. “There were no sharks, no sea turtles, no sea grass, no living coral. I felt like I lost my friends.”

Recent analysis has proven that hotter atmospheric temperatures and sea stage rise contribute to extra frequent, damaging tropical storms.

Brosnan’s expertise helped spark a mission to create reef restoration technology. The undertaking will span 1 hectare (2.6 acres) of useless reef off the coast of the Caribbean nation Antigua and Barbuda.

The undertaking, generally known as Ocean-Shot, was introduced Thursday on the Global Citizen’s Forum. The technology, funded by US entrepreneur John Paul DeJoria, the co-founder of Paul Mitchell hair merchandise, mimics the design and form of pure reefs to present alternatives for colonization by corals and different marine life.

The constructed reef modules will even assist defend the close by coastal neighborhood from storm surge and sea stage rise, undertaking officers mentioned.

Brosnan, whose Washington-based firm is main the efforts, mentioned scientists will check new applied sciences geared toward dashing up coral development, which naturally takes up to a decade to restore 1 hectare. A close-by coral nursery will even develop a number of species that may finally assist populate the reef substitute.

Ocean-Shot launches at an important time. Scientists estimate up to half the world’s coral reefs have already been misplaced and the remaining are in danger.

From the Caribbean to the western Pacific, the consequences of climate change have led to coral bleaching, a worrying uptick in ocean acidification and relentless hurricanes which have wreaked havoc on the world’s reefs, Brosnan mentioned.

It has been a problem, too, to draw consideration to the plight of coral reef.

“A lot of people don’t fully appreciate the state of the ocean because they don’t see it,” Brosnan mentioned.

Coral reefs help greater than 25 p.c of marine biodiversity, together with turtles, fish and lobsters, which gasoline international fishing industries. The reef is like an condo constructing, Brosnan mentioned, with completely different species dwelling on every flooring from the basement to the penthouse.

Serving as protecting limitations for coastal communities in opposition to wave motion, the coral reefs allow individuals to arrange houses and companies nearer to the ocean.

Coral reefs mitigate sand movement to seashores, replenishing the glowing white seashores that make the Caribbean a worldwide vacationer scorching spot. The sand itself is thanks to coral and a vital native species that feeds on it.

“The white sandy beach on a tropical island is actually parrotfish poop,” Brosnan mentioned.

If the world’s remaining reefs proceed to die, Brosnan predicts a serious monetary affect on fishing and tourism that island nations depend upon, which may gasoline migration to extra developed nations.

“It’s a real concern as to where you can live if the coral reef disappears, how you can make a living if the fisheries are gone and where you have to move now,” she mentioned.

After the undertaking’s implementation in Antigua and Barbuda, officers hope to replicate Ocean-Shot in different areas within the Caribbean and Latin America, Brosnan mentioned, including there could possibly be scope to convey it to different areas.

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