We all know coral reefs as being breathtaking underwater worlds there to be discovered, explored, and generally marvelled at from afar. But the world's coral reefs are facing a crisis: they are dying.
From Australia’s vast Great Barrier Reef to the tropical wonders found in Belize’s Barrier Reef, the world is inundated with stunning coral reefs that shimmer under blue skies and have us swooning over the gorgeous reds and oranges of the coral and fish. Coral reefs aren’t just pretty, though – they provide so much more than simple aesthetic pleasure.
A gorgeous coral reef has probably been your laptop screensaver at some point in your life, but have you ever wondered what a coral reef actually is? We got you. Coral reefs are basically underwater ecosystems that sustain a quarter of all the earth’s marine life and foster thousands of species of fish, including sharks and jellyfish. They provide food, protect coastlines from erosion and wave damage, provide incomes and job opportunities to local communities and are even sources of new opportunities for medicine.
But our coral reefs are dying - and at an alarming rate. It’s been predicted that over 75% of the world’s coral reefs will be dead by 2050. In the Caribbean, 80% of coral reefs are already dead.
So what is causing the reefs to die so quickly? Pollution, overfishing, rising sea temperatures and swimmers not taking care of the reefs when they snorkel or dive are all contributing factors to the death of these essential ecosystems. If these reefs don’t survive, coastal communities could be at greater risk from tsunamis and erosion, as well as a loss of income from tourism.
But it’s not all bad news. There’s one company that is flat out refusing to accept the death of our coral reef systems the world over, and they’re thinking outside the box when it comes to a solution. Meet Coral Vita, the company with one very strong mission: regrow the world’s coral reefs one by one.
We hope you take time this #EarthDay to celebrate the natural wonders we’re blessed to have. So much of the news today is filled with tragedy, despair, and anguish. And sadly, the health of #coralreefs is not improving. Up to half the Great Barrier Reef died over the past few years. The same decline is happening worldwide. But as we bear witness to this ecological catastrophe, we must appreciate the beauty still around us. And hopefully from that, we can draw inspiration and be spurred to act before it’s too late. Tell the story of what’s happening to your friends. Demand change from our leaders. Hope matters. What can you do to help? Thanks to @chasingcoral and @theoceanagency for the photo.
Using the method of microfragmenting, Coral Vita extracts fragments of coral from the reef and uses them to grow new collections of coral on ‘Coral farms’. By breaking the coral fragments into tiny pieces, they basically trick the coral into thinking it’s a baby again (how cute is that?). The baby coral is grown and raised in on-land farms, tended daily by dedicated coral farmers before being placed back into the reefs when they return. If you’re anything like us, you’re likely thinking that being a coral farmer is the dream job you didn’t even know about…
Once back in the reefs, the coral grows an incredible 50 times faster than it would naturally. This way, they’re able to grow millions of coral in a coral farm, rather than thousands. The coral that they grow is also more resilient than natural coral to withstand conditions, meaning it’s much more likely to survive and thrive. This process means that coral will be regrown in months, rather than decades.
Happy Friday coral reefers! Another good one from @theoceanagency's #InternationalYearOfTheReef campaign. ?: @alexmustard1. "A vibrant Red Sea reef scene, with orange female scalefin anthias (Pseudanthias squamipinnis) swarming in front of fire coral (Millepora dichotoma) feeding on plankton brought to the reef by currents. Ras Mohammed Marine Park, Sinai, Egypt."
Coral Vita isn’t just actively regrowing the coral reefs, it’s pushing for greater awareness on coral endangerment and advocating for companies to take more accountability for the pollution they cause along coastal regions. They also work with local communities to better take care of the reefs that they so vitally rely on as their livelihood. Coral Vita, you are literally our heroes.