Tag: climate change

Coral Reef Islands Return Thanks To Rising Sea Levels

Research has found evidence to suggest that rising sea levels may actually help build coral reefs, instead of destroying them like scientists originally believed. Low-lying coral reef islands are usually less than three meters above sea level which means that they can be impacted by climate change and the rising sea levels that come with it. This rise in sea level may be a danger to those of us on land but it could be a huge help in the growth of coral reefs as long as these reefs remain healthy.

How Were Coral Reefs Formed?

At the time the five islands in the southern Maldives formed, sea levels were 0.5 meters higher than they are today. Having more water gave the waves a lot more energy when they hit land. The islands in question were formed by large waves from distant storms off the coast over three to four thousand years ago.

Known as high-energy wave events, these large waves were able to break coral rubble off the reef and move it to the reef platforms which in turn created the foundations for reef islands. This could mean only one thing – the higher sea levels and large wave events were essential to the creation of these islands.

Coral Bleaching Won’t Help

Coral Bleaching is a huge problem when it comes to the growth of coral reefs. A few ecological causes for bleaching include temperature, subaerial exposure, freshwater dilution, and a few others.

Subaerial exposure is the one that will be solved by rising sea levels because it involves the sudden exposure of reef flat corals to the atmosphere which usually occurs during low tide and a drop-in sea level.

When corals are stressed by changes in conditions such as the ones stated above, they expel the symbiotic algae living in their tissues causing them to turn white and become “bleached”. This bleaching will kill the coral if it is not resolved quickly which is why growth is not possible when bleaching is present.

Ideal Conditions For Growth

The ideal conditions for coral growth are stable climate conditions so bleaching can’t occur, perpetually warm waters, shallow water, clear salt water, abundant plankton, and little or no pollution. The only condition that would be impacted by the sudden change in sea level is having to be in shallow water.

Coral needs sunlight to survive and if they are any further than 45m to 55m below sea level, they will not get enough light and will eventually die. However, it would keep them from being exposed to the elements reducing the change of any bleaching.

Adapt To Survive

According to Dr. Holly East, the lead researcher from the Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences at Northumbria University, coral reefs face a range of threats from climate change. The reefs need to be able to adapt to the conditions around them to survive.

By using the large wave events, researchers are hoping that the coral reefs will be able to rebuild themselves over time. However, this will only be possible if the reefs are not bleached already. We may have the perfect building conditions, but it is up to the reefs themselves to provide the bricks.

Declining Penguin Populations Turn Heads Toward Coastal Currents

Magellanic penguins are one of the few species of penguins that live in warmer, non-polar waters. They breed along the coasts of Argentina, Chile, and the Falkland Islands. In the winter, these penguins take to the sea and spend the colder months along the shallower continental shelf. Recent observations of river outflow have shown that oceanic winds and currents can mean good or bad winters for the penguins, but only the females.

Near Threatened

Ecologists and biologists have turned their attention toward these tiny penguins in recent years due to human threats to their breeding grounds. Although there are still millions of Magellanic penguins along the South American coastlines, oil spills pose a hazard to large breeding colonies, particularly along the shores of Argentina. Every year, 20,000 adults and 22,000 chicks succumb to oil spills.

Climate change has also caused a decline in the Magellanic penguin population. Warming oceans have displaced fish populations, driving them away from their historic ranges. During the breeding season, this means that hunting penguins have to swim up to 50 miles farther to find food while their mates sit starving on their nests.

A River Flows Through It

The Rio de la Plata meets the South Atlantic Ocean between Argentina and Uruguay, dumping nutrient-rich water and sediments into the surrounding sea. Wind patterns along the coast disperse the outflow. The microorganisms in the water attract fish. Low winds mean that the fish and their food supply stay relatively close to the mouth of the river, whereas stronger current carries them along the coast for miles, dispersing the fish.


Magellanic penguins feed on these fish during their winters at sea. When the winds are low and the food is concentrated, the penguins are healthier-looking in the springtime and more fit to have a productive mating season. If currents thin the fish populations, the penguins suffer, though scientists noted that only the female Magellanic penguins seemed to feel the effects.

Biological Differences

Like many species, Magellanic penguins exhibit sexual dimorphism, which is a visual difference between the two sexes. Male penguins of this species are larger than the females, and scientists believe that may play a key role in discovering why the males don’t seem as affected by changes in the currents. The larger male penguins are thought to have more stamina and a greater ability to hunt at depths that the females cannot reach. As a result, they have access to more food when the river outflow is dispersed than the female penguins do.

Studying the habits of these little birds has been a challenge because of where they spend their winters. Satellite technology and digital trackers are making it easier to scientists to understand what Magellanic penguins do when they’re away from land. Before biologists compared the satellite imagery of the Rio de la Plata with the penguins’ unusual health fluctuations, the reason was left to much tricker guesswork. As we continue to blend technology into all facets of science, we are better able to study the world around us and understand how we can help it as habitats change and the climate shifts.

For now, the population seems to be doing alright. That’s not the case for other wildlife in the seas, with populations decreasing by up to 50% over the past forty years.

Global Warming Could Spell The End For Sea Turtles

As global air and sea temperatures rise, numerous species are facing the consequences of our actions. Habitats are disappearing, climate change is shifting habitable zones, and some animals just can’t take the heat. Among the sea turtle populations, scientists are observing an unusual and disturbing trend that could prove fatal in a matter of generations.

A Biology Lesson

Sea turtles are part of a group of reptiles whose biological sexes are determined by their environment. Specifically, sea turtle eggs are impacted by the temperature of the sand around them. If the sand is cool, the eggs hatch as males. If the sand is warm, the eggs hatch as females. Rising temperatures had scientists wondering if more heated sands might mean that slightly more females were hatching. To find out, they traveled to a major sea turtle breeding ground near the Australian coast.

When they arrived, the marine biologists set out to determine the sexes of the sea turtles that had returned to their breeding grounds to lay eggs. Blood tests and laparoscopic observations helped the scientists count and catalog the number of females and males present on the breeding grounds. Their findings were undoubtedly fascinating, confirming their suspicions, but more than that, they also established the scientists’ greatest fears. Not only had the number of female turtles risen with the increase in temperature, but the males had become outnumbered 116 to 1.

The Undeniable Truth

Raine Island, one of the major breeding beaches in the Coral Sea area, is a point of significant concern for scientists. The rookery is nesting grounds for up to 200,000 turtles, with 18,000 coming to nest at any given time during peak season. With such a high output, maintaining gender diversity is important, which is why what the scientists found was so alarming. Based on their analysis, Raine Island has been producing almost exclusively female offspring for nearly 20 years. The ratio of females to males has been increasing since the 1970s and 80s, though the numbers were closer to 6 to 1 back then.

As the sea temperatures rise, the coral bleaches and the sand grows ever warmer, scientists worry that the outlook may be grim for these massive turtles. But, all is not lost. At another breeding ground near Brisbane, farther south where the temperatures are cooler, the female turtles only outnumber the males by a factor of two-to-one. The difference between the two rookeries confirmed for the scientists that climate change was playing a significant role in the female-favoring shift.

A Worldwide Perspective

Studies of breeding grounds across the world indicate that the global average is shifting noticeably in favor of females, with a roughly 3 to 1 average ratio. Having the numbers slightly skewed toward females might not be all bad, as long as the bias remains relatively small. Male turtles can mate with multiple females, which continues to work out just fine when there are a few more ladies around than there are gents. However, as the temperatures climb, scientists fear that the variation might become more noticeable as it has on Raine Island.

Although sea turtles have been around for thousands of years, the temperature fluctuations in the past have been gradual. Present-day turtles are seeing climate swings throughout single-lifetimes as opposed to generations. The oceans 50 years ago were cooler and cleaner than they are today. In coming decades, we may witness the extinction of some endangered species of turtles as their breeding grounds warm and skew their gender ratios. With any luck, the turtles will migrate to cooler waters and save themselves.

Other than these all-female turtle births, there have been a lot of other really strange things happening in our oceans lately…

Our Planet Relies On The Ocean For Oxygen

Trees are not the only life form that provides the planet with oxygen. Micro-sized marine life such as plankton are responsible for converting carbon dioxide to oxygen. Climate change and rising carbon emissions are threatening the ocean’s natural mechanisms to sustain life, and are leaving scientists with a race to beat the clock.

Churning In Motion

The ocean hides underneath its depths a diverse amount of life, which are responsible for regulating the climate and maintaining the biome. Although it may seem that most of the planet’s oxygen come from trees, they only provide 25 percent of life-sustaining oxygen. Phytoplankton and other marine plant life are responsible for producing an estimated 50 to 85 percent of the oxygen in the planet’s atmosphere.

Phytoplankton bloom in the Bay of Biscay (Wikipedia)

Bacteria, diatoms, and algae utilize photosynthesis to release oxygen into the atmosphere. These creatures are the foundation of the aquatic food web and are essential to supporting life by using sunlight, carbon dioxide, and rich nutrients churned up from the sea floor by hurricanes. The complex and fragile web of life on the planet is under threat because of rising carbon emissions, warming temperatures, and ocean acidification.

Imminent Die Off Possible

The ability for microorganisms to produce enough oxygen is at risk of cessation at the end of the century, as 40 percent of plankton have perished since 1950. Warmer waters make it challenging for phytoplankton and other forms of marine life to thrive, leading to migration, adaption failures, and dead coral reefs. More extreme weather patterns and the saturation of carbon emissions by the ocean have led to the erosion of the sea floor, which has thrown off the balance of once widely-available rich nutrients.

Areas where the ocean is unable to let enough sunlight leads to disruptions in the life cycle for plankton. During the spring, the phytoplankton bloom throughout the world’s oceans and produce oxygen, taking advantage of the sunlight and nutrients available. Similar to the ebb and flow of the ocean tide, plankton and other oxygen-producers in the ocean go through a cyclical existence.

Reversing The Flow

Scientists and concerned citizens around the world are devising ways to help preserve the health of the oceans and marine life. Acidification of the seas, reduced numbers of phytoplankton, and absorption of carbon emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels have put a dent in the production of oxygen. The push for sustainable and renewable forms of energy would help reduce the damage inflicted on marine life and our planet’s fragile ecosystem.


Studies involving the planting and maintenance of kelp gardens, and reviving coral reefs and other life which can filter the ocean of carbon dioxide may help reverse the impact of human pollution. The rapidly changing pH levels of the ocean’s waters are motivating researchers and developers to act quickly to check and balance a troubled ecosystem. If the seas are healthy, phytoplankton and other marine life that filter the water can flourish and better sustain life on the planet.

Sound The Alarm: 90% Of Table Salt Tests Positive For Microplastics

Your salt shaker may be hiding a dirty secret. Microplastics are lurking in nearly 100% of table salt found on grocery store shelves, dining tables, and in kitchens worldwide.

If you thought only marine life was suffering the brunt of human’s ill-fated love affair with plastic, think again. Thanks to microfibers from clothing, widespread use of disposable plastic items, and inadequate environmental regulations, plastic has entangled itself within the food web.

An Ancient Spice Sullied

In a lot of places, sea water is often left to evaporate to leave behind piles of salt. Sadly, because of the proliferation of plastics in the oceans, salt processed in Asian countries tends to have higher levels of microplastics.


Sea salt is valued for its strong flavor, multiple health benefits, and as a rich source of nutrients. Consumers should take caution when using sea salt, as it has more contamination from microplastics than lake salt and rock salt.

Plastics With Nowhere To Go

Both wealthy industrial nations and poorer countries have contributed to plastic pollution. Microplastics form from ingredients in cosmetics, apparel, and inexpensive mass-produced goods. Oceans are not the only places that are littered with tons of plastics, as coastlines, beaches, and natural waterways get bogged down with refuse.


According to sources, by 2015 the world managed to produce 7.8 billion tons of plastic. The mismanagement of plastic waste around the world has led to plastics polluting rivers and oceans. Humans still need to work on reducing the demand for plastics and adhere to responsible disposal methods to prevent entry to the global food chain.

Beyond The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is not the only sore point where plastic pollution persists. The need for solutions to clean up the oceans and land where there are microplastics present is urgent.

When scientists discovered an enzyme that could potentially consume stubborn oil-based plastics in 2016,  it was a glimmer of hope for dealing with the plastic problem. Efforts have been stepped up to scour the world’s oceans for plastics, with the hope of reversing the damage inflicted on the planet’s fragile ecosystem.

Food Chain Disrupted

Plastics in the ocean are not only a threat to marine life, as microplastic-tinged sea salt has been observed for years. Austrian researchers recently studied a small pool of participants and discovered the presence of microplastics in samples of human stool. The study’s results are troubling, as the participants all came from different countries and followed their typical eating habits.


There are ten common microplastics that are regularly found in the water, air, table salt, and even bottled drinks. Polyethylene is typically used in plastic shopping bags and bottles. Polypropylene is used in rope and bottle caps.

Human health is at risk. Plastics can build up in the intestines over time, triggering inflammation and stressing the immune system. Animals have been studied for years for evidence of microplastics in the food chain, and now humans can be added to the list as being affected.

MORE: Even washing our clothes is putting massive amounts of plastic into the world’s water.

The First Open Platform for Ocean Data

Through the years the World Resources Institute and many other organizations have collected and curated ocean data. But, the World Resources Institute, or WRI, led by Carolyn Savaoldelli is moving a step further into the future.

The goal of creating a platform to house open ocean data for policymakers on any level and scientists.

Resource Watch

Resource Watch is the official name for the database that reveals a massive amount of information about our ocean and environment. The WRI curates, adds, and carefully monitors information to ensure that the database is as complete and unbiased as possible.

There are still a few kinks to work out, but currently, the platform is up and running. Launched in a beta version, Resource Watch is now relying on feedback from users. To contribute, those who possess open ocean information can send the data they have to the WRI for review and curation.

The overall goals of Resource Watch include providing relevant data from reliable crowdsourcing, the scientific community, and satellites, assisting policymakers decision making with high-quality data and enabling the scientific community to continue study into our environment.

Trustworthy Data and Data Curation

The Resource Watch database is unique because it draws metadata from a massive range of resources. But, unlike publicly shared data that anyone can add to or detract from, Resource Watch goes through a curation process from the WRI team. The WRI team has many guiding principles for what data goes into Resource Watch.

They aim for robust, unbiased information that is relevant to the present condition of the environment. Having reliable data about the state of our oceans is the first step for long-term environmental strategy regarding policy-making and daily best practices that can affect everyone.

Creating an Easy to Use System

Because the goals of Resource Watch revolve around a wide range of users, the system must maintain ease of use along with functionality. Scientists and analysts can spend a short time sorting through a lot of data and decipher meaningful information. However, a journalist or policymaker doesn’t have the speed or savvy to work at that same pace.

The Resource Watch system allows anyone within just a few clicks to identify areas of interest now, such as sea level rising and use sliders to see projections of change in the years to come. Easy to access data takeaways can include changes in sea level, salinity, and the presence of plastic or unnatural waste.

Resource Watch continues to work on the functionality of the database so anyone can decipher meaningful information from the database.

Too Much and Too Little Data

The most prominent struggle that Research Watch faces currently is the issue of too little and too much data. Unfortunately, our environment is in a constant state of flux and change, which means that often when data is ready for curation, it is already out of date.

The volume of relevant, useful, and unbiased information is sparse. The WRI hopes that Resource Watch will encourage researchers and those who survey the ocean with satellites to contribute meaningful data and fill in the current gaps.

Seagrass Is Dying Out And Nobody Seems To Notice

When people think of how global warming is affecting the oceans, images of bleached coral reefs, melting icebergs, and devastating storms tend to come to mind. What people don’t usually think about is the habitat destruction that comes with those things or the loss of vital ecosystems. Seagrass habitats are disappearing at a rate of roughly one football field every 30 seconds, so why isn’t anyone talking about it?

Major Decline

Since global temperatures began their steady rise around the time of the industrial revolution, our environment has been taking the blows as humans have continued to generate pollution and dump it into the earth, water, and sky. Species have been wiped out or pushed to the brink of extinction by our actions more than once. Currently, the outlook for seagrass in particular, is pretty grim. The unremarkable plants haven’t drawn much media attention, but their loss would be devastating in many ways. The saddest thing is that their decline is entirely the fault of humans.

Water pollution plays as much of if not more of a role in the demise of seagrass as rising oceanic temperatures. In areas where water pollution from farms, industrial sites, or municipal waste is high, seagrasses have declined rapidly over the years. On the other hand, some places in Asia have taken a pro-conservation stance. Trees have been planted to prevent erosion in some areas, and legislation has been sought to limit the amount of nutrient pollution and waste that flow into the oceans. Areas with these protections have seen a significant turnaround in the health of their marine estuaries. In some places, the seagrass growth has surpassed its previous peak, which was recorded in the 1950s.


What many people fail to realize is that the disappearance of seagrass will cost the Earth more than just an important ecological niche. Seagrass meadows are one of the ocean’s most prominent carbon dioxide sinks. The oceans themselves are estimated to store around 93% of the world’s carbon dioxide in their water, plant life, algae, and corals. Rising ocean temperatures decrease the water’s ability to hold in carbon dioxide, and the shift in underwater climate is taking out corals left and right. Combine those factors with the devastation that comes with the loss of seagrass and things don’t look pretty.

On a global average, we’re losing seagrass meadows at a rate of roughly one football field every thirty seconds. Over the course of a single day, Earth loses over 3,800 square acres of seagrass. If loss continues at this rate, we’ll see an annual increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide equal to a billion metric tons. For comparison, that’s nearly the same amount of carbon dioxide that Japan emits every year. Japan is the fifth-highest carbon dioxide producing country in the world. To add another source of carbon emissions on that scale would have incredibly detrimental effects on the Earth’s climate.

A Place To Call Home

As we mentioned earlier, some areas have begun concentrated efforts to protect seagrass beds and raise awareness about the loss of these vital habitats. Southeast Asia, in particular, has taken a stand against the decimation of seagrass meadows, though with a secondary motive in mind. These underwater fields are home to a very peculiar and nearly-endangered species called the dugong.

A cousin of the manatee, dugongs are native to the waters around Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and other areas between the South Pacific and Indian oceans. Dugongs aren’t the only creatures who make their homes in seagrass meadows. Fish, crabs, seabirds, and turtles also live in these habitats, and their destruction is threatening the species’ survival. Seagrass meadows are no small deal, either. Some of them are large enough to be seen from space.


Around the world, organizations have been cropping up to defend and restore these marine habitats. Although the effort required to match pace with the level of destruction is immense, these organizations aren’t going to let that get in their way. One of the actions taken by conservation groups is the cultivation and transplantation of seagrass from healthy areas to threatened areas. Much like the process of seeding coral reefs, repopulating damaged seagrass meadows can help the ecosystem regain a foothold in a given area.

In addition to encouraging the regrowth of damaged regions, conservation groups look farther inland for solutions to coastal problems. The conservation groups push for legislation to restrict what is allowed to flow into rivers and out to sea in an effort to reduce the amount of land-based pollution to coastal waters. Fertilizer from farmlands often wash into the oceans and cause a nutrient imbalance in estuaries like seagrass meadows, throwing off the balance in the ecosystem and threatening less-opportunistic species. Restricting the amount of traffic through the habitats also allows the meadows to regrow with minimal disturbance.


If the conservation efforts around the world get their way, the seagrass meadows should make a spectacular comeback. In some areas, preservation and reseeding have allowed seagrass fields to turn back the clock more than half a century. The newly-expanded healthy habitat creates ample living space for animals like dugongs, rays, crabs, and small fish to hide and thrive. Should other conservation projects have similar success, we could potentially see a full reversal to the devastation we are currently facing.

While aiding any local (or global) restoration groups is a great way to get involved, using your voice and influence to make sure that the people in charge make smart decisions about our climate is equally important. Seagrass destruction isn’t a flashy topic and it easily gets swept under the rug. Raising awareness in your community, especially if you happen to live in a coastal region, could make a world of a difference. At the end of the day, all the little steps you take to preserve the planet we live on add up to something grand. Being that little bit of change or the spark that ignites a flame of informed action in your community could just be what this planet needs to make a turnaround.

Coral Transplants Help Threatened Coral Reefs Recover And Thrive

Coral may be tiny animals that live in vast networks under the ocean, but they are a big part of a healthy marine ecosystem, tourism, and fishing industries. Over 60% of coral reefs are under threat by human activities, despite coral reefs being a source of rich biodiversity and a potential source of medicines. The coral reefs that exist today have taken hundreds and thousands of years to develop, with some reefs dating back to 50 million years ago. Coral reefs are responsible for supporting 25% of marine life, so protecting them for generations to come is of utmost importance. Saving corals from eradication and slowed reproduction rates may require the use of transplantation.

Bringing On The Heat

If you fancy a dip in the ocean while on vacation, you might find that the water is warmer than in the past. Observing the health of coral reef populations throughout the world have helped scientists uncover how much human behavior impacts the seas. Rampant climate change has led to widespread ocean acidification, coral bleaching events, and has disrupted a precious equilibrium in the ocean. Ocean acidification has rapidly bleached the Great Barrier Reef, leaving only seven percent unaffected. The rising acidity of the oceans has led to coral reefs becoming brittle, slow growing, and unable to survive warmer temperatures.

Usually, coral bleaching is something that would take place every 27 years, but with climate change, a frequency of every 6 years is more common. If there are no effective actions taken to curb the level of rising carbon emissions, scientists have projected coral bleaching may take place every two years by 2030. Marine heat waves in 2016 and 2017 managed to wipe out 1/3 of the coral population. Increasing severe storms, lowered oxygen levels in the ocean, and stress from sweltering temperatures have triggered disease outbreaks and disrupted coral reproduction.

Protecting An Integral Life Support System

Coral is more than it appears in our world’s oceans, as it provides a source of food and shelter for sea creatures, regulates carbon dioxide in the water, and protects shorelines. If coral reefs were to disappear, vulnerable lands would be under threat, communities that thrive on fishing to survive would struggle, and marine life would be at a disadvantage. Thanks to coral and other essential living creatures within the marine ecosystem, the planet receives a considerable amount of oxygen for life below and above the surface. Since the Industrial Revolution, over 525 billion tons of carbon emissions have been absorbed by the world’s oceans. If the rate of carbon emissions does not drastically slow down or cease, the result for coral and life on Earth may be catastrophic.

Coral reefs are visually fascinating, providing a wondrous backdrop for recreational swimmers, and may provide a source of future medicines. Some coral has managed to survive the onslaught of human-created destruction and pollution, which have caused many sensitive species to whither away from stress, disease, or disrupted feedings.

Climate Change Demands Human Intervention

Australia has maintained a stance of not interfering with the sensitive ecological systems in the ocean, including coral reefs. Unfortunately, severe climate changes have forced a change in position. A report released by the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine sounded the alarm for human intervention to take place to save coral reefs under threat.

Coral polyps typically come out at night to feed, but rising temperatures have unhinged natural feeding cycles and food sources. The risk of predators to coral, disease, stress, and higher carbon dioxide levels are throwing nature off balance. Scientists are turning to transplant coral that can withstand higher temperatures and salinity to repopulate at-risk coral reefs.

Successful Coral Transplants Transform Ecosystems

The recent task of transplanting viable coral to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia is not the only success story for undoing past damage. Transplanting coral has been used since the 1970s, encouraging repopulation of coral reefs going barren, and encouraging new coral species to take root and thrive. Coral biologist James E, Maragos first used coral transplants while working in Hawaii. Instead of damaging coral by transplanting a section of reef to a new location, baby nurseries are grown using a little bit of coral taken from donor reefs, reducing damage.

Opal Reef is a tourist location that brings in divers who enjoy the rich underwater view, and it is a prime location for current transplanted coral. Species of coral that can survive high-stress environments are being selected to rehabilitate the area, using small clippings that don’t harm the original. David Suggett of the Future Reefs Program holds a lot of optimism in the use of transplants and sees it as a critical practice to help correct areas of marine life blight, restabilize coral reef communities, and revert years of damage.

Exploring The Power Of Genetic Adaptation

Not all coral species are suitable for the job of being a transplant, to help existing coral populations fortify against climate change. One reason rising temperatures are damaging for most coral is that it triggers coral to eject the algae with which it has a symbiotic relationship for sustenance. Without photosynthetic algae, most coral is unable to survive, except for specific species that don’t rely on zooxanthellae and live in the deep sea.

The symbiotic relationship between most coral and zooxanthellae will support the recycling of nutrients in an environment devoid of nutrients. Photosynthesis triggers the zooxanthellae that live in the tissues of coral to produce glucose, amino acids, and glycerol. Coral takes the products of the algae and produces calcium carbonate and makes fats and proteins. The algae inside coral are responsible for coral’s color, and due to stressors like diseases, warm temperatures, and high acidity, bleaching and coral death can occur.

Scientists look for coral that is genetically different and can thrive in areas where volcanic emissions give off higher temperatures and more carbon dioxide emissions. One drawback with hardier species of coral is that their greater tolerance for high heat and bleaching events is coupled with a slower growth rate. Transplanting coral is not a 100% cure-all for rapidly reproducing coral that can survive the changing environment, but it is one step in the right direction to restore balance to a delicate ecosystem.