The reefs in Earth’s oceans have been under siege in recent years. The damage could have a catastrophic effect on human and animal populations. Scientists estimate that over 90 percent of the coral reefs on the planet will be destroyed by 2050. One group of scientists is trying to make sure this doesn’t happen.
When Hurricane Irma was scheduled to make landfall in 2017, she sent millions of inhabitants fleeing. Emily Hall, who works with the Mote Marine Laboratory off the coast of Florida, had just gotten to the site when she and her team were told they had two days to evacuate before the behemoth of a storm made landfall.
“We had two days to gather everything and get the heck out of Dodge,” she recalled. Hall and the rest of the team had no interest in their own safety. instead, they were concerned about losing additional reef samples that they had been using to recreate previously-thought destroyed reefs.
By using these smaller samples, the research team would be able to replicate a reef that would typically take years to grow and grow them 25 times than they would in the wild.
Essentially, they replant the reefs with the hopes of preserving the reefs, which new reports indicate make up 80 percent of the oxygen on Earth.
The president of Mote Laboratory and Aquarium, Michael Crosby, spoke to Business Insider to explain the ramifications of letting the world’s reefs die.
“You like to breathe?” he asked. “Estimates are that up to 80% of the oxygen you are breathing in right now comes from the ocean. It doesn’t come from the land.”
Rest assured though, Crosby has a plan to make sure we don’t run out of oxygen. “In order for you to continue to breathe, you have to have a healthy ocean,” he said.
In the past 30 years, scientists estimated we have lost 30 percent of the world’s reefs from various elements, some human error, and some natural disaster.
The task was simple: Save the 30,000 fragmented reefs that they have been trying to slowly recreate. Bring them back like they were decades prior. The company’s end goal is rebuilding these reefs by applying them to the onc- thought dead organism and allowing itself to regenerate.
“We have developed the technology to bring back — to reskin — a 100- or 200-year-old coral in a few years,” Crosby said. “We can bring these corals back.”
The crew was able to secure a large portion of these samples to accomplish their goal. If these reefs are not rebuilt, societies and cultures that rely heavily on the import and export of fishing could go under as 25 percent of aquatic life lives in the reefs.
In turn, this will singlehandily destroy the ocean’s ecosystem. “That is a wasteland out there,” Crosby said to further reaffirm his point. “If we do nothing, they will go extinct.”
It may not be now, but years down the road our ineptitude to come together as human beings could have lasting effects on future generations. Reefs are not just pretty things to look at, they are living organisms that have a crucial purpose.