In search of the rainforests of the sea

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 that they are dying. I couldn't believe what was happening, 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 harmful result against corals. Can you believe that in the last 30 years more than 50% of the corals on the planet have been bleached / died, which are home to 30% of the marine species? If you don't know what it means for corals to bleach, I'll explain it to you: Corals contain algae that are responsible for their spectacular colors and are their main food. When corals feel stressed - due to pollution or change in water temperature - they expel these algae, lose their color and turn white. If stressors are not reduced, they die.

If I'm completely honest with you, these data broke my heart, especially when I think that, in Colombia, according to the Ministry of the Environment, 60% of 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.

 

 

 

But it is 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 quickly explain how it works and its history: This discovery was actually an accident. When a scientist went to take a coral he was studying, it broke 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, whereas the original coral had taken three years to grow to that point.

So what you do is take a golf ball size coral and cut it into 20 to 100 microfragments. Each one 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 come together creating a single coral.

 

Tortuga en coral, proteger corales

 

With this culture it is sought that the corals reach a size large enough to be able to transfer them to the reef and that they 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 are 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 10,000 pieces.

This is why I believe that there is hope for our corals.

Some interesting facts:

Corals the size of a small car can be between 200 and 500 years old.



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