CHASING CORAL- THE TRUTH ABOUT BLEACHING!
“They’re doing well,” he said. “They’re sheeting over the entire structure really nicely. In a year or maybe two from now, you will see one continuous colony that would have taken 15 to 30 years to grow” in the wild. Dr David Vaughnan on Coral Reef Restoration.
At Earthoceans.org we are here to inform as well as to inspire. Today I want to look at the Oceans, specifically coral and what is really happening with our coral worldwide.
Did you know that coral is an ANIMAL made up of tiny polyps. Each polyp is as tiny as a few millimeters and it is classified as an invertebrate. It is an animal because it doesn’t manufacture its own food. It lives SYMBIOTICALLY with algae that give it color and produce food through photosynthesis. The polyp consists of a mouth and tentacles. It excretes an exoskeleton that becomes the hard structure of the colony or reef. Sometimes these interconnected structures can become enormous living organisms. But under a magnifying glass these little polyps look like serious aliens.
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure visible only from space. Its over 2000km long and around 350000 square kilometers in size. The Great Wall of China is the largest man made structure at 21 196 km long. But it doesn’t compare in overall size. Not even close.
Coral has many other particular aspects of its fascinating life. It can reproduce in two ways. The first by breaking away from a parent polyp and the second at full moon and when the water temperature is slightly higher than normal. The polyp then expels egg cells and gametes or sperm cells and reproduction takes place. This simultaneous mass event of “spawning “ or GROUP ORGASM can also be viewed from low Earth Orbit (LEO). Must be quite amazing to be swimming on this coral during a spawning !
This is further proof that the Earth is a biological symbiotic organic programe or bio computer. Why? Because the trigger of this spawning is a FULL moon and water temperatures rising and tides such as lunar tides. It is the environment necessary for life to perpetuate itself. That is the theory of the EQULIBRIUM in action. Not evolution. Its a formula.
Much has been documented by scientists on the phenomenon of coral bleaching. Unfortunately , this information has been politicized by special interest groups who are spinning a wholly negative narrative not based on true science but manufactured science. Its easy to distort the data using advertising techniques. This happens to provide incomes and funding of large organizations who are not focused on the solution but focused on controlling human activity. And whilst we need to be aware of what is happening , we should not put our heads in the sand like ostriches and say its the end of the world. It isn’t. But that’s how they like to portray it. Ill come to that in a minute.
First off yes, human activity does cause coral bleaching. But so does rising ocean temperatures and uncommon events such as seen in 2016 with the solar cycle. Both are relevant.
Ocean Acidification or OA can lead to coral bleaching too This is where too much CO2 comes into the water causing a release of hydrogen which in turn change the PH level of the SEA water and making it more acidic.
This acidity can trigger the coral to expel the algae. (Probably because the algae cant do its job and has become toxic.)
Coral stress from noise and motor vibration and human swimmers… can also lead to the coral expelling the algae. The reason why this symbiotic relationship has to end is because of polyp stress. It can be due to toxicity or temperature changes… or something else. We simply do not know. But we know its happening. And usually in a warm temperature rise event.Not always. Causes of coral stress can be many not all are the same…not all human related.
But it is unlikely to be the main root cause because bleaching occurs where there is no human activity whatsoever. So it must be the water itself. Is it acidic due to CO2 or is it too hot due to a solar flare or global warming. That is the relevant question to ask… It is also good to note that human garbage or sewage can impact coral health. Even things like nuclear waste. All of it needs to be taken into account. Including solar cycle events and weather events.
Let me stress that there are other things that can cause bleaching. Hurricanes or Tsunamis for example can destroy coral ,or the acidification of the ocean through CO2 emissions. Its not just rising sea temperatures. There are many multiple factors. Coral is very sensitive. But like the mycellium it is also very resilient and can adapt to changes in the environment just like all life on Earth.
THE RED SEA
I have observed coral in one particular place since 1983. The Sinai. I spent around 6 weeks in a place called Sharm El Sheikh viewing coral every day. It was magnificent. Like a whole new world of colors and shapes I had never seen before. It was like going to an alien fantasy world with so many different colored fish and odd shapes. It really was eye opening. I returned to that same place in 1996 and that wonderland has disappeared.
It was still good …but not that good. Human activity had created numerous new hotels and much of the human waste was thrown into the sea…in 2006 I noticed the coral was bleached. Completely. I assumed it was solely due to human activity. This narrative has since been strengthened by the documentary in 2017 called “CHASING CORAL”. It comes across as a dire emergency. That program documented the death of a coral reef on Lizard Island. It was gruesome and heart wrenching. But it didn’t tell the whole story.
But today half the coral reefs in the world is dead or dying. All of that occurred in the last 30 years. In 2015 I returned to Dahab to a special place I used to go called the Blue Lagoon. Most of the coral was bleached. It was disheartening for anyone used to seeing beautiful colors under water.
Human activity can indeed cause stress to the polyps which will cause them to expel the algae. This is a factor. But so do major weather events which are natural. So coral has been living and dying for millennia. The phenomenon we are seeing now is an emergency. No doubt. But we need to look at the facts. Tourism is a major cause of bleaching as is warm sea temperatures. But in the Red Sea it is not always the case. Certain varieties of polyps particularly ones in ERITREA have adapted to warm sea temperatures and have not bleached. None of this data was included in the documentary. It was mostly doom and gloom and emotional science. There is a ray of light at the end of this rainbow. We must also be careful of a false and misleading narrative.
Bleaching is bad. It is caused by rising ocean temperatures and pollution. Both human and nature related. But the truth is that there was also a solar cycle that contributed to the warming of the oceans. And these solar cycles occur usually every 11 years. Oceans generally also absorb over 25% of the CO2 in our atmosphere. Some through plankton and algae which is found in coral reefs and others by simply dissolving it into the seawater.
It is the largest reservoir or sink of Carbon emissions on Earth. Trees and plants account for around 25 % making it a balance. 50 % of the co2 remains in the atmosphere and there is no question we have to reduce our carbon emissions. But we can mitigate. More money needs to be spent on reef rehabilitation, coral gardening and coral plantations.
Here’s some sad news :
Coral bleaching occurs when coral polyps expel algae that live inside their tissues. Normally, coral polyps live in an endosymbiotic relationship with these algae, which are crucial for the health of the coral and the reef. The algae provides up to 90 percent of the coral’s energy. Bleached corals continue to live but begin to starve after bleaching. Some corals recover.
The leading cause of coral bleaching is rising water temperatures. A temperature about 1° C (or 2° F) above average can cause bleaching. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, between 2014 and 2016 the longest recorded global bleaching events killed coral on an unprecedented scale. In 2016, bleaching of coral on the Great Barrier Reef killed between 29 and 50 percent of the reef’s coral.
THAT’S ONE THIRD OF THE ENTIRE CORAL REEF. But it wasn’t due entirely to Man. Nature also helped. Also when a coral is dying it expels the algae which feed it and let off a fluorescent colour in their last blaze of glory… but does that mean the WHOLE coral reef is finished? Is that an extinction event ? No. Not if we ACT now for the next generation to come…and Ill come back to that. Acidification changes the chemistry of the seawater causing calcification of the coral. Thats also a fact… BUT…
What the clever scientists didnt show you in that programme is that it isn’t the WHOLE story…and its not the end of the world.
They wanted you to buy a false narrative to suit their own political agenda of making you personally responsible. WE are stewards of the Earth, but we need the correct science too.
To control the narrative you tell some of the truth not ALL of it. And the truth is the destruction of the coral was not altogether due to climate change from mans activities or acidification.
Thats false. About 50% …not 100 % . Maybe even less. The primary cause of this sudden destruction was weather …hurricanes… and increased water temperatures from a solar flare or solar cycle which happens every 11 years. Coral is sensitive to changing weather. Why else would it be triggered by the FULL MOON?
This particular solar cycle was well documented and it reinforces a trend that started around 30 years ago. Whatever is causing these polyps to stress out and boot out the algae which produce food for the polyp is anyone’s guess… BUT … there’s some good news. Its not all doom and gloom.
WE CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
There IS a solution…
The good news is that we are discovering new ways to save our oceans and our reefs. Rsearchers and scientists are discovering ways and means to use heat resistant strains like the Eritrean strain of polyp to GROW and CULTIVATE polyps in coral plantations and replant them onto reef locations where coral has been damaged or has died.
We are currently learning that it is possible to grow polyps in runway tanks. Dr David Vaughan in Florida is one person pioneering new techniques of farming heat resistant strains of polyps. He claims he is able to grow hundred of coral a day. He is founder of “ PLANT A MILLION CORALS FOUNDATION”. He managed to grow coral 40 times faster using a process called micro-fragmentation. The CHASING CORAL didnt spin his discovery or even cover it. It was a MAJOR breakthrough in our fight to save coral reefs all over the world… yet they preferred to ignore it. Maybe intentionally…maybe not. They did mention a bit about using broken pieces of live coral to create coral gardens. But this process takes years and years. It isnt a fast enough remedy. We must grow coral like we grow trees..we must PLANT POLYPS like we PLANT TREES….
Thats the solution. And the GREAT news is that we can. If we get a dedicated investment into a global programme of replanting coral reefs with NEW heat resistant strains of coral. Coral that is able to handle hotter water temperatures and possible acidification. This is what we need to be spending money on.
Currently the model projection is that 75% of the coral will be dead by 2050. Thats bad.
But using this break through method of microfragmentation coral can be regrown 50 times faster !
“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. 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.”
DR VAUGHAN STORY
Dr. Vaughan stumbled upon the microfragmenting idea about 10 years ago. He was transferring colonies of elkhorn coral between aquariums in his lab. He reached to the bottom of a tank to retrieve a colony growing on a two-inch concrete puck.
“Part of the coral had grown over the back side and had attached to the bottom of the aquarium,” he said. When he grabbed it, “it broke off and left two or three polyps behind. I thought I just killed those. But oh, well, I moved the puck over.”
A week later he happened to glance at the abandoned polyps — the individual hydra-shaped, genetically identical organisms that make up a coral colony — on the bottom of the aquarium. “I noticed that those one to three polyps were now five to seven polyps,” he said. “They not only had lived — they had grown and had doubled in size.”
This is called HUMAN INNOVATION. Lateral Thinking. A blog I will address in another day. Its NOT all doom and gloom. We can save the OCEANS coral reefs. If we try and act NOW.
Earthoceans Foundation is dedicated to this mission in every way.
Why are coral reefs important?
IN ONE WORD… BIODIVERSITY.
“Coral reefs provide an important ecosystem for life underwater, protect coastal areas by reducing the power of waves hitting the coast, and provide a crucial source of income for millions of people.
Coral reefs teem with diverse life. Thousands of species can be found living on one reef. The Great Barrier Reef contains over 400 coral species, 1,500 fish species, 4,000 mollusc species and six of the world’s seven sea turtle species. The Coral Triangle – a coral-rich marine region in Southeast Asia that encompasses the waters between Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea – is the most biologically diverse marine ecosystem on Earth.
Coral reefs have an estimated global value of £6 trillion each year or 7.5 trillion dollars…, due in part to their contribution to fishing and tourism industries and the coastal protection they provide.
More than 500 million people worldwide depend on reefs for food, jobs and coastal defence. The ridges in coral reefs act as barriers and can reduce wave energy by up to 97%, providing crucial protection from threats such as tsunamis. They help protect areas such as mangrove forests and seagrass beds that act as nurseries for marine animals, as well as human coastal populations.
Extracts from animals and plants living on reefs have been used to develop treatments for asthma, arthritis, cancer and heart disease.
Coral reefs are an important food source for the people who live near reefs, and, as nurseries, are vital to the world’s fisheries. Many of the compounds now being used in human medicines, including some that treat cancer, are found on coral reefs, with probably many more yet to be discovered. Coral reefs help humans in many other ways too: generating tourist dollars for communities, and—especially important in our changing climate—acting as natural barriers against storm events like hurricanes, typhoons, and even tsunamis. The annual value of the ecosystem services provided by coral reefs to millions of people is estimated to be over $375 billion.”
Besides its biodiversity and protection it affords many human communities such as in the Maldives, coral reefs are an important income generator for tourism and as a food source.
CORAL POLYPS ARE THE TREES OF THE OCEANS. PLANTING POLYPS AND CREATING CORAL FORESTS OR REEFS INCREASE OUR ABILITY TO DEAL WITH CO2.
WE MUST SAVE OUR CORALS IF WE ARE TO SAVE OUR OCEANS.
I visualize Coral Plantations in the near future that will renew broken and damaged and dead coral reefs all over the world. As well as new forests of coral being planted in new areas… we can reduce our carbon emission problems and coral bleaching challenges by restoring our reefs. The answer is not MORE control and FEAR, its MORE action to plant more coral. MORE PLANTING.
Our very survival in the future will depend on how we consume ,and how we reduce our consumption.
But in the mean time we need to mitigate the damage done by Natures whims and Mans.
Lets GROW POLYPS! …BILLIONS AND BILLIONS.