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News > Science and Tech

Hawaiian Scientists Use Gold to 'Wake Up' Dormant Coral Larvae

  • A tourist swims in the Great Barrier Reef.

    A tourist swims in the Great Barrier Reef. | Photo: Great Barrier Reef National-Reuters FILE

Published 27 October 2018
Opinion

The procedure involved wrapping the larvae in specks of gold, then heating it with a laser which defreezed it seconds later.

Scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute succeeded at thawing or ‘waking’ up previously dormant coral larvae - which is a Hawaiian coral fungus species named Fungia scutaria.

RELATED:
Scientists Unlock the Secret Behind Saving the Barrier Reef 

The success of the experiment is encouraging news for the scientific community as the process implies that the possibility of continuing conservation efforts to preserve coral reef diversity still exists. 

The procedure involved wrapping the larvae in specks of gold, then heating it with a laser which defreezed it seconds later. The conclusion is that 43% of the specimens recovered to a condition which allowed the larvae to become activated in water. 

Coral reefs are complex ecosystems which have consistently and progressively faced endangerment through exploitative human activity. Global warming, the acidification of oceans and plastic pollution are amongst the main threats to coral reefs. The destruction or disruption of coral systems affects multiple animal species which inhabit the reefs, as well as human populations that benefit from the systems as a whole. 

According to the scientists, if quick and urgent action is not taken, nearly three-quarters of Earth's coral reefs could be annihilated by 2100.

The importance of saving and preserving the coral systems is well-documented with threatened reefs, such as Australia's Great Barrier Reef and the Mesoamerican Coral Reef, being home to many endangered marine species.

Additionally, in countries like Belize, marine ecosystem tourism industries generates some US$37 million a year towards the countries' economies. 

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