Some time ago I saw a documentary called "In search of coral" that talks about how the world's corals are bleaching which is almost the same as saying they are dying. I couldn't believe what was happening and much less could I believe that all this had to do with global warming.
I confess that in the midst of my ignorance I never imagined that a change in temperature, which in my eyes is slight, could have such a damaging result for corals. Can you believe that in the last 30 years more than 50% of the planet's corals have bleached / died, which are home to 30% of marine species? If you don't know what it means for corals to bleach, I'll explain: Corals contain algae that are responsible for their spectacular colors and are their main food. When corals feel stressed – due to pollution or changes in water temperature – they expel these algae, they lose their color and turn white. If stress factors are not reduced, they die.
If I am completely honest, this data broke my heart, especially when I think that, in Colombia, according to the Ministry of Environment, 60% of the coral reefs are under some degree of threat. 20% of these may disappear in the next decade, 19% have been destroyed and 15% are in critical condition.
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But it's not all bad news, in recent years scientists have found what could be the solution to "grow" corals in an accelerated way: up to 40 times faster than they would grow naturally. A coral in natural conditions takes 25 to 75 years to reach sexual maturity, this new cultivation technique reduces this time to only 3 years.
I'll quickly explain how it works and its history: This discovery was actually an accident. When a scientist went to pick up a coral that he was studying, it broke off and many very small pieces remained, but these pieces ended up growing to the same size as the original coral. The most amazing thing is that these grew in just a few weeks, while the original coral had taken three years to grow to that point.
So what they do is they take a coral the size of a golf ball and chop it up into 20 to 100 microfragments. Each of these fragments grows to the size of the original coral (the golf ball) in just a few months, and when they touch each other they recognize themselves as the same (I know it sounds crazy, but is real) and merge or join together creating a single coral.
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With this culture, the aim is for the corals to reach a size large enough to be able to transfer them to the reef and for them to begin to regenerate and adapt to these types of conditions. Thus, little by little the ecosystem is restored and fish, crabs, lobsters and other species begin to arrive.
Since this field work with the fishermen began, in biological terms, there have been 5,302 fragments of coral species planted, both in San Andrés and in Providencia. This year's goal is to finish with a minimum of 10 thousand pieces.
This is why I believe there is hope for our corals.
Interesting facts about the jungles of the sea:
- Corals the size of a small car can be 200 to 500 years old.
- The reefs are the habitat of a large number of species, they are very important because they are centers of marine activity
- Corals are animals! Known as polyps, they are aquatic marine invertebrates and can be considered the oldest living animals in the world
- Coral reefs owe their color to the microalgae that coexist with them in symbiosis.
- They are responsible for the formation of white sand beaches. When they die, their skeletons with erosion and the movement of the waves against the rocks break creating these wonderful landscapes.
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Although this time we are talking about corals, these are not the only animals that are in danger due to our unsustainable customs, we invite you to be part of the change by using biodegradable products< s23> or wearing environmentally friendly clothing. At Madre Tierra you can find more sustainability tips.