by megan irwin
Coral reefs bring up mental images of picturesque, vibrant ecosystems that are teeming with marine life, but the sad reality is that over one fifth of the entire coral population is dead and deserted. The only remainder of a once healthy ecosystem is a decolate, algae covered, ghost town. The substantial decrease in coral population should raise concern to everybody, yet, there continues to be an ever increasing amount of plastics and trash that find their way out to sea. The garbage that lies polluting the ocean not only blocks sunlight from reaching the coral but also spreads disease to the coral due to the toxins in the plastic. The dire situations of dying coral, and the general warming and acidifying oceans, need to be addressed. The fact that it remains human based, the only way to solve such a complication is for mankind to figure it out and fix society’s grave mistake in killing the oceans.
The grim story of the dwindling coral population sheds light on a new form of coral preservation. Scientists from Smithsonian Institute researchers in Hawaii have found a way to cryogenically preserve coral larvae, meaning that the diversity of the existing coral population may be preserved for centuries in order to figure out a good method of a mass reintroduction of coral to marine ecosystems. The preserved larvae can also be used to seed dead or injured reefs in need of a rebirth to flourish as an environment for marine animals. Before, the goal of preserving larvae was due to the inability to successfully cryopreserve and awaken the larvae, and now, with the newfound method of cryopreservation, the possibility to preserve coral reefs is even closer to achieving. Cryopreservation is just one of the many possible solutions that may save the planet, more methods of preservation not only directed for coral will save the planet from the ruins it lies in. Coral is vital to marine ecosystems because it is the center of the community to which other marine animals swarm. Due to the benefits that coral provides to the environment, it remains as alink that ties the food chain of coral reefs together. If these systems were to go extinct, it would have alarming influences on the entire ecosystem of marine life. Hence, the cryopreservation of coral is essential in protecting the diversity of coral species for generations to come.
The thought of coral reefs disappearing forever is calamitous, but with modern science, preservation of coral has become a more attainable option than ever. Cryopreservation is an investment in the future of environmental preservation, whether this generation bears witness to the rebirth of coral, or generations to come, it gives hope that one day, the world will have thriving coral reefs in no threat to extinction.
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