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Half of the world's coral reefs have disappeared in the last 20 years, but now researchers are trying to reverse the trend . A whole range of different methods are now being tested to not only save the remaining reefs but also create new ones.
Several of these projects are trying to create new reefs by printing coral reef frames with 3D printers . These frames are tailored to the needs of different coral animals. The hope is that larvae from nearby coral reefs will spread to the bodies with the currents and start a new reef there.
Another method, which can be used with 3D frames, is to plant live corals in new places. Coral Nurture Program collects pieces of coral that have come loose from a reef and plants the pieces in places where there is hope of being able to create new reefs.
Planting corals has previously required divers to use a special type of glue to attach the corals to the reef. It is a time consuming process, but the Coral Nurture Program has invented a more efficient method.
Their Coralclip tool makes it possible to press corals onto the reef without the need for any glue. This allows a team of eight divers to plant over 3,000 corals per day. Because the corals can be moved long distances, divers can take corals from places where the reefs die and create new ones in places where they thrive better.
This is important for another method where researchers take corals that are resistant to heat and move them to dying reefs . This can affect the local ecosystem and is not optimal. But if the choice is between affecting the ecosystem or letting it go completely, it may be worth trying new coral species.
Cooperation with the local population
The best thing is, of course, if the reefs that exist today can continue to live on. That is also the goal of the Coral Reef Alliance. They work with local communities to save coral reefs . Among other things, they have projects to stop fishing on reefs for a while so that the fish stock has a chance to recover.
In order for the local fishermen to cope with the financial loss, the organization can give them temporary work to take care of the reef while they are not allowed to fish there. The Coral Reef Alliance also helps fishermen find alternative sources of income so that they do not become so dependent on fishing.
Methods like these give hope that we will have coral reefs teeming with life in the future as well.