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Why we need more ‘super corals’

Special corals in Hawaii may hold the clue to saving the world's reefs.

hawaii-coral-super-reefs-with-fish

The news about the world’s coral reefs has been bleak. As climate change warms the oceans and makes the water more acidic, coral reefs are dying. When coral reefs suffer, marine life suffers as well. While reefs cover just 1% of the ocean floor, they support up to 30% of all marine life.

A new study casts a hopeful light on coral reefs’ dim future. Researchers have discovered that Kāne’ohe Bay in Hawaii is home to “super corals” that were nearly destroyed 30 years ago by development and sewage flowing into the bay. But the coral has rebounded rapidly — covering about 50% to 90% of the area it once did. This success comes despite warmer, more acidic water than they’re used to, and despite human interference.

“We knew that the temperature and chemistry conditions in Kāne‘ohe Bay are very similar to the conditions that people predict will kill corals off globally,” said Dr. Christopher Jury, lead researcher of the study and a postdoctoral researcher at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology at University of Hawaii. “Yet, the reefs in the bay are thriving, making the area incredibly valuable as a possible window into the future.”

The recovery process

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