Although they may look like plants, corals are actually animals. However, they contain plants and secrete minerals, so the confusion is understandable 😅
Dr David Vaughan, PhD in Marine Sciences, wants to plant 1 million corals, thanks to an innovative technique he discovered by accident!
While moving coral samples in an aquarium, he accidentally broke one into small pieces that fell at the bottom of the aquarium. He thought these corals were lost and forgot about them. A few weeks later, he came back to the aquarium and noticed that they had not only survived but multiplied and grown. By pursuing his research, he discovered that small pieces of coral placed close to each other would grow together and fuse back as one piece.
Through this micro-fragmentation process, growth and healing happen up to 40 times faster than they occur naturally on the reef. It means that it could take only a couple of years to restore 100-year-old corals! David envisions using this innovative technique to reproduce resistant coral strains and recover the lost reefs.
Why does it matter? With 25-40% already lost, the worldwide coral population is in incredible danger. They provide habitats for numerous fish (including Nemo and Dory!), and fisheries depend on them for up to 40% of their catch. Coral reefs are also the rainforests of the sea: they absorb heaps of carbon dioxide and produce a large amount of the oxygen we breathe. Finally, they protect the shorelines from waves and storms and help mitigate climate change effects.
The time to find Nemo has passed. Now, let’s save his habitat 🐠