Corals Are the Lungs of the Oceans
by Dennis Townsend, Contributing Writer
Did you know our oceans are slowly becoming unable to sustain life? We take it for granted that because it’s a vast area, that it can take care of itself. It is home to a over a million life forms, and just because we don’t see them, doesn’t mean that they are not suffering, With water covering the majority of this planet we would do well to keep in mind that the oceans play an important part of the eco-system on our planet.
The sea floor is covered with countless shipwrecks, and airplanes that have crashed into the seas, and many other man-made materials. The oceans have learned over the years to take these things and turn them into habitats for certain life forms. They become reefs in which corals can attach themselves and provide food for the smallest of creatures. But in recent years, scientist have noticed that the corals were dying off, and with them the life forms that depend on them. And this is a problem since coral is a reproducing life form that is not reproducing in the wild as it should be because of pollution and yes, climate change.
There is an all out effort going on in the ocean off the Caribbean coast to try and save the Elkhorn coral which is barely showing any signs of reproduction. Biologist are harvesting as many “eggs” as they can find during the corals “spawning season” to take to the labs to initiate reproduction. The task of finding these eggs are hindered in part because small ocean creatures tend to feed on the eggs. If the coral was healthy, this would not be a problem because it would have an abundance of eggs for reproducing, and for feed. These eggs called, "gamets", are taken to the labs and using a simple process, are fertilized. Once they are fertilized, they are attached to “tiles” a plastic star shaped device, to start growing. This process could not be done in the wild because they would be consumed by the little hungry creatures they normally support. It takes 3 years before they are mature enough to be returned to the ocean where the tiles are attached to a rock or any suitable object with an underwater epoxy. There, they will continue to grow until they are large enough to produce eggs.
It will take many years to bring the Elkhorn coral to the point that it can take care of itself, and the biologist continue to use this process every time the spawning season takes place which is once a year. It’s a race which must be won all over the oceans to sustain the corals and the many lives that depend on them. We must stop destroying the necessary eco-systems of this planet at all cost. The battle we as humans face is against the big money making corporations who pollute our planet in the name of profit. The poison in the air and the pollution in the seas is killing everyone, and everything. We know the battlegrounds and what must be done. Are we ready to fight for “our” planet or watch it die? It’s time to speak up.