Corals are the only animals in the ocean that build permanent solid structures which impede them to run away from diseases or pollution.
But they are especially sensitive to both as they are plants as well as animals.
“They’re very simple animals. They’re an animal that’s basically a gut with a ring of tentacles around it,” says Marine biologist Tom Goreau. “They’re plants because in the cells of the coral they have symbiotic algae living inside and those things photosynthesise.”
The algae in the coral tissue bleaches then dies if the coral encounters stress.
But Dr Goreau has teamed up with professor Wolf Hilbertz who has developed something he calls “sea-creation” which can mimic the natural process that corals use to grow their skeletons.
He puts a low voltage current through seawater. The current draws out the minerals, which essentially constitute limestone. Hilbertz also made “coral arks”, made of welded steel bars that he sinks to the sea floor, and then supplies a current. Quite rapidly, limestone grows on the steel and live corals can be grafted on to the structure. They survive pollution and high sea temperatures, as long as the electricity stays on. The current takes care of growing a coral’s skeleton which frees the animal up to fight off diseases or other stresses.
Via BBC News.
Credit photo: Wolf Hilbertz / www.globalcoral.org.