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Fight to make OK coral

Fight to make OK coral
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The idyllic view of coral in Guadeloupe is a myriad of colours playing host to exotic tropical fish.

Just a few hundred metres away, though, it is a different story.

There, it is a reef in agony. Pollution, overfishing and climate change is strangling the coral. Around Guadeloupe a third of the reef is already dead, and it is not only affecting the wildlife.

Philippe Godoc, the director of the Guadeloupe Aquarium explained: “The coral reefs play a very important role, because the sea-swell breaks on the barrier instead of the shore, so if the coral reef were to disappear it’s the island coastline that would be affected.”

The scientists have maybe found a solution to re-populate the damaged areas around Guadeloupe.
Coral is a living thing, with all the mysteries and vagaries of reproduction. So at nightfall, they launch nets in the hunt for coral eggs.

Between July and September, for just two days around full moon, over a period of exactly 15 minutes as the sun sets, the Guadeloupe corals decide to lay thousands of tiny white eggs.

The race is on for the divers to gather as many as they can. In the lab the eggs are fertilised and the larvae are grown on artificial supports before being released back into the sea.

Environment expert Franck Mazeas said: “To give you an idea, after doing these procedures there are roughly 500,000 or 600,000 larvae, so that’s already huge, and the goal is to end up with at least 20 or 25 per cent of those that develop.”

It will be several years before they know how efficient the scheme is. Scientists warn that work has to be done in parallel to treat what is killing the coral in the first place, otherwise their work will be in vain.