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Scientist Accidentally Discovers How to Make Coral Grow 40x Faster

Emma Fiala

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The news would have its readers believe that we’re in the end times – that climate change has reached the point of no return and the world is on the brink of nuclear wear. Unfortunately the hopeful and inspiring stories tend to pass by far too quickly, but if you look for them, they’re always there. Some are the result of years worth of work, research and investments, while others come about simply by accident.

Take the Great Barrier Reef, for instance. Coral reefs account for a measly 1% of the entire ocean on planet Earth. Despite the miniscule amount of surface area they cover, coral reefs provide food and shelter to one quarter of all marine life. Reefs also support marine life that ends up in the human food chain, feeding a whopping one billion of us.

Thanks to a little thing called “bleaching,” about two thirds of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia has been killed off due to a rise in temperature, thought to have been brought on by global warming. The statistics are alarming.

Thankfully, and completely by accident, Dr. David Vaughan from the Mote Marine Laboratory in Florida, may have found a way to reverse that devastating loss.

Coral ordinarily takes 25 to 75 years to reach sexual maturity, meaning it can take up to six years to plant 600 coral. This fact alone is one reason the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef is so alarming. But thanks to Dr. Vaughan, we may be able to help coral grow forty times faster!

The Good News Network describes Dr. Vaughan’s accidental discovery:

“He had been trying to remove a coral from the bottom of a tank when it broke into a dozen pieces. To his shock, all of the pieces regrew to the same size in just three short weeks, as opposed to the three years it had taken to grow the original coral.”

The process of fragmenting coral to encourage regrowth is nothing new. In fact, the process has been around since the 1960’s. According to a former intern of Dr. Vaughan’s, this new approach differs greatly in that Dr. Vaughan “has been essentially adjusting the coral frag[ments] to more acidic and warm water to better prepare them for our changing climate.”

“This is now a new discovery that can give real hope for our coral reefs that has never been there before,” Vaughan told BBC One. “We tried [this process] with all the other species of corals in the Florida Keys and it works for them all.”

Our Blue Planet: Accidental discovery could save coral reefs

An accidental discovery is giving new hope for coral reefs.BBC Earth

Posted by BBC One on Monday, October 22, 2018

This new method as been so successful that researchers are reportedly producing coral faster than they can acquire new takes to put it in.

Vaughan and his team plan on planting 100,000 corals in the Florida Reef by 2019.

It should be noted that, while Dr. Vaughan discovery is great news for the Great Barrier Reef as well as other reefs struggling to survive throughout the world, speeding up their rate of regrowth only serves to buy conservationists more time and puts a bandage on the greater issue.

Animals

As Marine Life Flees the Equator, Global Mass Extinction is Imminent: Scientists

Elias Marat

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The waters surrounding the equator are one of the most biodiverse areas in the globe, with the tropical area rich in marine life including rare sea turtles, whale sharks, manta rays, and other creatures.

However, rampant rises in temperate have led to a mass exodus of marine species from the sensitive region – with grave implications for life on earth.

While ecologists have long seen the thriving biodiversity of equatorial species holding constant in the past few centuries, a new study by Australian researchers published in The Conversation has found that warming global temperatures are now hitting the equator hard, potentially leading to an unprecedented mass extinction event.

The researchers from the Universities of Auckland, Queensland, and the Sunshine Coast found that as waters surrounding the equator continue to heat up, the ecosystem is being disrupted and forcing species to flee toward the cooler water of the South and North Pole.

The massive changes in marine ecosystems that this entails will have a grave impact not only on ocean life – essentially becoming invasive species in their new homes –  but also on the human livelihoods that depend on it.

“When the same thing happened 252 million years ago, 90 percent of all marine species died,” the researchers wrote.

To see where marine life is headed, the researchers tracked the distribution of about 49,000 different species to see what their trajectory was. The global distribution of ocean life typically resembles a bell curve, with far fewer species near the poles and more near the equator.

However, the vast alteration of the curve is already in motion as creatures flee to the poles, according to a study they published in the journal PNAS.

These changes augur major disruptions to global ecosystem as marine life scrambles in a chaotic fight for food, space, and resources – with a mass die-off and extinction of creatures likely resulting.

The research underscores the dire need for human societies to control rampant climate change before the biodiversity and ecological health of the planet is pushed past the point of no return.

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Environment

Japan Says Dumping Fukushima Radioactive Water in Pacific Ocean is Now “Unavoidable”

Elias Marat

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While Japan last month marked the 10th anniversary of the devastating 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami with solemn ceremonies, the government has also been stressing the successes of its recovery efforts in the country’s northeast.

In truth, however, the country is still coping with the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, which has already cost Japan trillions of yen and whose exclusion zone will require up to 40 more years to fully rehabilitate.

And with contaminated water continuing to build up at the ruined Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga says that the government must finally begin dumping it into the Pacific Ocean.

With nuclear waste and fuel rods still contaminating the area, over one million tons of radioactive waste water continue to seep from the facility, according to The Japan Times, forcing authorities into what Suga describes as the “unavoidable” position of having to dump the water.

Officials claim that the water would be purified to the maximum extent possible, but environmentalist groups like Greenpeace warn that the water contains hazardous material that could damage human DNA and the health of marine life.

Fishers also fear that consumers will refuse to buy fish caught in contaminated waters, worsening their plight amid a restriction of imports from Fukushima prefecture imposed by 15 countries and regions.

Regardless, authorities argue they must deal with the cards that have been dealt.

“What to do with the [treated] water is a task that the government can no longer put off without setting a policy,” Japanese trade minister Hiroshi Kajiyama said on Wednesday.

Suga is expected to formally decide on the course of action by next Tuesday. If he proceeds, authorities will dilute tritium to 2.5 percent of the maximum concentration allowed by the country before it is dumped.

But while Japanese officials say that the water will be safe, it remains an open question whether people will trust their word.

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Environment

Crowds Flock to Lava-Spewing Volcanoes in Italy, Iceland and Guatemala to Get Closer View

Elias Marat

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The year 2021 has so far been a particularly active time for volcanic eruptions. In February and March, three spectacular volcanic eruptions have occurred: the Fagradalsfjall volcano in Iceland, Mount Etna in Italy and Pacaya in Guatemala.

In each case, the eruptions have drawn large crowds of curious onlookers and sightseers.

In vivid video captured at Fagradalsfjall volcano on April 1, lava can be seen being spewed as amazed onlookers can be heard in the background. According to local reports, tens of thousands of people have been drawn to the area to view the eruption.

Iceland’s authorities are not anticipating evacuations due to the mile-and-a-half distance from the nearest road.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and as of now it is not considered a threat to surrounding towns,” said Iceland Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir. “We ask people to keep away from the immediate area and stay safe.”

Italy and Guatemala have also experienced a few volcanic eruptions this year.

On March 7, Sicilian villages were showered with ash and lava stone following the eruption of Mount Etna, which began its highly active phase in February.

The Pacaya volcano lying 30 miles south of the Guatemalan capital has also been extremely active since February.

Pacaya’s peak typically attracts tourists, but hikes are temporarily on hold due to the uptick in activity. Pacaya has a clear view of the nearby Volcano of Fire, whose lava flows in a 2018 eruption killed at least 110 people and left rougly 200 missing.

While volcano tourism provides a steady source of income for villages like nearby San Francisco de Sales, locals must balance this with the need to ensure their long-term safety.

So far, however, Pacaya has not yet injured locals.

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