Experts are predicting that climate change will eventually destroy the Australia’s Great Barrier Reef entirely. But researchers have now identified corals hiding in plain sight that are not only surviving increased acidification and warming temperatures, but appear to be thriving in them.
As ocean temperatures rise, many kinds of corals can shed the symbiotic algae living in their tissue, which causes them to starve and turn white. Increased CO2 in the atmosphere is also making the ocean more acidic, which stops corals from calcifying properly.
But a team of Australian researchers from the University of Technology of Sydney has just returned from New Caledonia, where they discovered « extreme corals » which are happy growing in around 33 degrees Celsius. This dicover could be the key to determining if some corals will survive the transition. Thus, researchers were able to investigate this ‘extreme coral’, and figure out what makes it so hardy, and whether it could help save other reefs – and the species they support – around the world.
« We don’t really know whether the coral populations in these mangroves are a distinct, genetically isolated community that has evolved over hundreds of years, or whether they represent a supply of corals coming continually from the main reef, and they just happen to be extremely physiologically plastic, » – David Suggett, marine biologist.
Although they’ve now identified these impressive coral species, there’s plenty of information they still need to uncover about them, such as, how different are they to similar, less hardy species?
Fingers crossed these kinds of corals can at least give the ocean (and us) some much needed hope.
Source: Science Alert