Marine Scientist’s Accidental Discovery Can Make Corals Grow 25-40 Times Faster

by Paul Swade, Jan 19 2019

School of fish at a coral reef
School of fish at a coral reef – Sagar

In a time where the coral reefs are dying at an unprecedented rate Dr. Dave Vaughan, former Executive Director at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Florida, accidentally found a way to increase the growth rates of corals by a factor of 25-40 . The technique called “microfragmenting” works by essentially cutting living corals into 1-5 smaller polyps using a specialized saw. This stimulates rapid healing and growth. The corals are then placed in a water tank where they will grow to full size over 4-12 months, after which the process can be repeated or divers can replant them at the reefs.

Dr. Dave Vaughan currently employs his technique with aim at restoring the Florida Reef Tract, which is the earth’s third largest coral reef and a vital ecosystem for underwater life. Furthermore, Dr. Dave Vaughan trains others in the technique, enabling them to set-up nurseries of their own from where they can help restore their local coral reefs.

Over the last 30 years climate change, pollution and diseases have been responsible for a reduction of around 25-40% of all corals on earth, and a staggering loss of 92% for corals indigenous to Florida and the Caribbean. While there are significant and serious initiatives being taken to combat the decline in world’s coral reefs, humans inability to deal with climate change poses a significant threat that coral reefs as we know them will be gone within a generation.

This article is a part of a series on the world’s coral reefs, their destruction and potential future revival

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