Coral

The reef was found in November, during a diving expedition to a depth known as the ocean's "twilight zone" - part of a global seabed-mapping mission.
The reef was found in November, during a diving expedition to a depth known as the ocean's "twilight zone" - part of a global seabed-mapping mission.

Pristine coral reef discovered off Tahiti

A research mission, led by UNESCO, found the reef, which stretches for nearly three kilometres and exists at depths down to 70m (230ft). This is around the ocean's "twilight zone," where there is just enough light to sustain life, and below which the ocean transitions into a dark abyss.

The reef probably took around 25 years to grow. Some of the rose-shaped corals measure more than two metres in diameter. This is highly unusual because, up to now, the vast majority of the world’s known coral reefs sit at depths of up to 25m.

Shadowfin soldierfish (Myripristis adusta)
Shadowfin soldierfish (Myripristis adusta). Growl and grunt sounds have been associated with soldierfish

The sound of coral reef recovery

Croaks, moans, purrs, growls, foghorns, whoops, grunts... these are just some of the many sounds that are heard coming from a healthy and diverse coral reef.

Researchers, who wanted to find out just how healthy restored reefs can be, focused on parts of reefs in Indonesia previously destroyed by blast fishing. The areas were restored through the Mars Coral Reef Restoration Project for years preceding the study.

Schools of planktivorous reef fishes strip the water of plankton, underpinning "sweet spots" of fish biomass production in tropical oceans.
Schools of planktivorous reef fishes strip the water of plankton, underpinning "sweet spots" of fish biomass production in tropical oceans.

Offshore plankton responsible for "sweet spots" at reefs

Plankton and plankton-eating fish play an important part in the productivity of tropical reefs by igniting "sweet spots" of abundance, according to a new study by ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE) and Research Hub for Coral Reef Ecosystem Functions at James Cook University (JCU).

A new approach to enhance coral resilience comprise of selective sexual propagation, coral probiotics and environmental hardening, to enhance coral’s stress resilience and allow reefs to regrow under changed environmental conditions.
A new approach to enhance coral resilience comprise of selective sexual propagation, coral probiotics and environmental hardening, to enhance coral’s stress resilience and allow reefs to regrow under changed environmental conditions.

Restoring coral to health

Corals are able to respond to changes in their environment through acclimation (the physiological process of becoming accustomed to a new condition) and adaptation and researchers believe natural populations may already be adapting to increasing sea surface temperatures.

A young coral colony (Acropora recruit) on the surface of a reef on the Great Barrier Reef.
A young coral colony (Acropora recruit) on the surface of a reef on the Great Barrier Reef.

Recovery of coral reefs

Understanding the recovery dynamics of corals is paramount to enabling the effective management of coral reefs. While detailed mechanistic models provide insight into reef recovery patterns, colony scale monitoring is not viable for reefs over a large geographical extent, such as the Great Barrier Reef (GBR).

Scientists are 3D printing calcium carbonate surfaces that corals can grow on.
Scientists are 3D printing calcium carbonate surfaces that corals can grow on.

Using 3D printing to restore coral reefs

A team of scientists at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology are applying innovative approaches to 3D printing solutions in a bid to restore depleted coral reefs.

Instead of using synthetic or hybrid materials, they have developed a new approach called 3D CoraPrint, which uses an eco-friendly and sustainable calcium carbonate photo-initiated (CCP) ink that they also developed.

Diver documenting corals for the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation's Global Reef Expedition survey.
Diver documenting corals for the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation's Global Reef Expedition survey.

Global Reef Expedition Final Report released

The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation (KSLOF) has released a report of its findings from the Global Reef Expedition—the result of ten years of assessing the state of coral reefs worldwide.

Considered the largest coral reef survey and mapping research mission in history, the findings provides a baseline data on their status and offering key insights on how to save them in a rapidly changing world.

Soft coral, cup coral, sponges and ascidians from Komodo National Park
Soft coral, cup coral, sponges and ascidians from Komodo National Park

Coral reef biodiversity predicted to shuffle, not decline

Rather than causing a collapse of biodiversity, the dual stressors of ocean warming and acidification could instead lead to significant changes in the relative abundance of species, resulting in a shuffling of coral reef community structure, according to a new study by researchers from University of Hawai'i.

Sprawling coral reefs are complex ecosystems that are teeming with life and most of this biodiversity consists of tiny organisms living deep within the three-dimensional reef matrix.

Table corals can regenerate coral reefs at a very fast rate.
Table corals can regenerate coral reefs at a very fast rate.

Why table corals matter in reef regeneration

Remember those large table corals (tabular Acropora) at the Great Barrier Reef?

A new study had shown them to be “extraordinary ecosystem engineers”, with the ability to regenerate coral reef habitats at the iconic reef at a rate 14 times higher—more than 20 years faster—than any other coral type.

In essence, the research indicated that overall reef recovery would slow significantly if these corals declined or disappeared at the reef.