flynas relaunches loyalty program 'nasmiles' with new incentives    HRH Crown Prince Congratulates King of Jordan on Independence Day    Saudi Ministry of Justice Launches Indicator for Financial Flow of Enforcement Applications on Najiz.sa portal    China Stocks Gain on Economic Support Vows    942 environmental violations detected since April    Human Resources Ministry to employ 18,000 occupational health professionals    Deputy UN chief praises resilience of Bali students in face of disaster threats    North Korea fires missiles hours after Biden leaves Asia    Trump's man trounced in key Georgia primary    FBI foiled terror plot to kill George W Bush    Indians are getting fatter – and it's a big problem    Flying reptile: Remains of scary prehistoric creature discovered    Premier League approves Chelsea sale to Boehly consortium    Al-Jadaan: Saudi Arabia will 'ultimately' consider cutting VAT    Prince Fahd lauds remarkable achievements of Tabuk University    Prince Abdulaziz congratulates Al-Shaibani on scaling Mount Everest    GCC Secretary-General Meets with Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh at Davos Forum    Saudi Physics Team Wins 3 Global Awards in 2022 European Olympiad    SAMA governor, CMA chairman thank Saudi leadership for approving FinTech strategy    NDMC Closes the May 2022 Issuance under Saudi Arabian Government SAR-denominated Sukuk Program    Women's green futsal team wins bronze in Gulf Games    KSrelief Participates in High-Level Regional Meeting on Youth    SFDA Warns against Jif Peanut Butter Products    Saudi Stock Exchange Main Index Ends Trading Higher at 12,300.86 Points    DCO, WEF launch initiative to boost global digital FDI flows    Saudi Press: Saudi Arabia Exerts Exceptional Efforts to Achieve Security and Stability in Yemen    Saudi Deputy Defense Minister visits US Central Command headquarters    In a Report to SPA .. SDAIA: Autonomous Vehicles Will Be Commercially Available in World by 2030, Will Account for 50% of Sales after 2045    How Syrian singer Rasha Rizk dazzled millennials at Jeddah Season?    Shoura members propose equal blood money for men and women, Muslim and non-Muslim    British Investors Express Interest in Investing in Saudi Arabia's Food, Drug Market    Ithra Participates in Cannes Film Festival with New Films to Support Saudi Talents    Exclusive launching of Michael Schumacher Digital Experience at Jeddah F1 Grand Prix    Mbappé signs new 3-year PSG deal after rejecting Real Madrid    Saudi Aramco: London Championship to Witness Participation of World's Best Female Golfers    Saudi Arabia Heads to Cannes International Film Festival to Promote Country's Flourishing Industry and Support Emerging Talent on World Stage    President of SAFF Participates in AFC General Assembly Meeting    Saudi Athletes Achieve Great Victories in the 2nd Day of the GCC Games Tournament in Kuwait    Jazan Hosts West Asian Beach Soccer Championship    Bollywood actor's tweet reignited debate over Hindi as India's national language    SFDA Advises to Wash Dates Well Before Eating    SFDA Advises Against Mixing Surplus of Iftar and Suhoor with Different Foods or Surplus from Other Days    Ministry calls on imams to avoid long supplications in Tahajjud Prayer    Nothing wrong with a Muslim celebrating birthdays, says Saudi scholar    Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques addresses citizens and all Muslims on the occasion of the Holy month of Ramadan    Pilgrims Perform Dhuhr and Asr Prayers at Arafat Holy Site    Council of Senior Scholars: Muslim Brothers' Group Don't Represent Method of Islam, rather only Follows its Partisan Objectives, Violating our Graceful Religion    Eid Al-Adha Prayer Performed at the Grand Holy Mosque    







Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.



Bringing the coral reefs back to life
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 07 - 06 - 2020

Coral reefs are being killed by the climate crisis, which is leading to rising sea temperatures. "Cryopreservation", a pioneering scientific technique, could be one way to help save them.
A tiny piece of coral is stuck to a thin sheet of plastic, and submerged in a tank at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology on Coconut Island in Kaneohe Bay, on the island archipelago.
This is part of a unique process that includes the cryopreservation [the use of very low temperatures to preserve living cells and tissues] of sperm, larvae and tissue, to create what has been called the "Book of Life" for coral.
Marine biologists, working on land and in the water, collect sperm and eggs from reefs during their annual spawning events, in the warm tropical water surrounding palm-fringed Coconut Island, and then in labs, where they prepare the coral for cryopreservation.
Ground-breaking techniques
Mary Hagedorn, a senior research scientist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, leads the team at the Institute, which is pioneering these techniques.
"Cryopreservation is a relatively new field of science originating in the late 1940s, but was only first used to preserve human embryos in the early 1980s and then eggs at the end of the 90s," she told UN News on a visit to Coconut Island.
"We have been working for the last 16 years on adapting those techniques to successfully preserve coral sperm, and also coral larvae, to store in living frozen bio-repositories, and help restore reefs now and potentially reseed the ocean in the future. We're really collecting the Book of Life for coral reefs, and that's significant."
Coral reefs across the world are being threatened by climate change. The UN Environment Program (UNEP) estimates that about 25 to 50 percent of the world's coral reefs have been destroyed and another 60 percent are under threat.
Warm, acidic oceans, and coral ‘heart attacks'
As oceans become warmer and more acidic, the corals are bleached, an event, which Mary Hagedorn compares to a person suffering a heart attack. "If bleaching happens on an annual basis then corals may ultimately die off," she said.
Corals are animals that create their own skeleton to help support them. These animals live in shallow warm waters around the world using sunlight to synthesize their sugar-based food. Reefs are not just "beautiful ecosystems" renowned for their biological diversity, according to Dr. Hagedorn, they are also crucial to life on Earth.
"Almost 25 percent of all marine life lives on a reef at some point and so without them many species of fish that we eat wouldn't exist. Corals provide a natural protection for our coastlines, for example against tsunamis.
"They also support people's livelihoods in the form of fishing and tourism and contribute 350 billion annually to the global economy. So, there are many reasons we should save them."
Researching for the benefit of future generations
A small international team of marine biologists is based in the lab on Coconut island, which sits on top of a coral reef and is surrounded by many more, making it possible for the scientists to collect samples in a small dinghy, or by snorkeling.
They also travel to many tropical countries around the world to help preserve their reefs including in Australia, Singapore and French Polynesia, among others.
In the institute's laboratory, Australian postdoctoral researcher Dr. Jonathan Daly examines polyps, individual coral animals, under a microscope.
"Corals have a very restricted annual cycle for reproduction (just a few days) and so there is a very brief window to collect their sperm and eggs in the field, and bring them into the lab for cryopreservation," he said.
He added that "Today, coral reproduction is impacted very heavily by warming oceans."
The material gathered by the team is stored in frozen biorepositories and it's hoped ultimately that other marine biologists in laboratories worldwide will eventually be able to preserve corals where they work.
This would save the biodiversity and genetic diversity of their local coral reefs and help to create the Book of Life for corals that Mary Hagedorn talks of.
This means that, if one of the many thousands of coral species found around the world becomes extinct, then potentially it could be regrown from the frozen biorepository.
The role of the ocean in economic and social development
"Our job is really not about today, it's about 200 or 500 years from now when, hopefully, our oceans have returned to pre-industrial conditions," said Mary Hagedorn in her laboratory.
"I'll never see the fruition of our work in my life, nor will my students or their students. Nevertheless, we have set this whole thing in motion, and as a scientist, I know we're doing something that really is good for the planet.
"However, it is very critical that we do this work now, while corals still have robust genetic diversity."
Hagedorn and her colleagues were interviewed as part of a photographic project called "Dignity at Work" which is being undertaken across the United States by the UN's International Labour Organization (ILO).
Oceans' role in economic and social development
Kevin Cassidy is the Director of the ILO Office for the United States: "We have seen the far-sighted and truly inspiring work on coral reefs by Mary and her team," he said, explaining the key role the ocean plays in economic and social activity.
"When one is fishing for seafood it creates income for the fisherman, his workers, more jobs in wholesale markets and shops, purveyors and transport workers, chefs and waiters serving food, patrons at restaurants and taxis. It is an economic string that threads its way through society."
And he warns of the danger of not looking after marine resources. "The impact of dying oceans would not only be an ecological disaster but would also take a large human and economic toll."
Back outside on Coconut Island, the work continues in between tropical rain showers. The plastic sheets, which were planted in water tanks with individual corals on different occasions, show how over time, the animals grow bigger and stronger.
Ultimately, when the conditions are right, they could be returned to the ocean to restore reefs. And in the longer term, the corals now stored in frozen biorepositories could bring back to life species killed by the effects of climate change. — UN News


Clic here to read the story from its source.