Listen to part of a lecture in a marine biology class.
So we have been fairly thorough in our discussion about coral reefs, which of course are prominent, oceanic features made of hard limestone skeletons produced by tiny coral animals.
We've gone over where coral reefs are usually formed – along the edges of shallow ocean banks in tropical or subtropical regions, and the fact that they are declining at an alarming rate.
But I don't want to leave you with the impression that all is lost.
There are several techniques being employed today that could prove useful in assuring the future of the reefs.
Now, we've talked in depth about coral bleaching, or whitening, which as you recall, is a symptom of … well, that the coral is suffering.
As you know, coral is very sensitive to water temperature, even though one or two degree Celsius rise in sea surface temperature for a relatively short amount of time can cause bleaching.
Recently, researchers have used data collected by monitoring surface water temperatures to improve the ability of a reef to recover from bleaching.
One future possibility is that improved monitoring can help predict where and when bleaching will occur, which might potentially enable us to mitigate its effects.
And there's another technique that's been experimented with to try to help coral reefs recover from bleaching.
It's called coral transplantation.
This involves moving young coral from a healthy reef onto a degraded reef, you know, in an attempt to regenerate the degraded reef by encouraging young healthy coral to take over.
There has been some success with this, but it's still somewhat controversial.
Some scientists support it because, well, for one thing, it means you don't have to rely on the existing coral to reestablish itself because it might not be able to.
But in my opinion, transplanting coral should only be used as … well, as a last resort.
I mean, this method is not only costly but it's … well, even if it's successful, it still fails to address the ongoing problem, the root causes of the degradation, which really is paramount to devising an effective solution.