How can we save alluvial land

Saving corals - how does it work? Coral reefs are particularly species-rich habitats. But many are suffering from the climate crisis: some corals are bleaching and dying. The good news: We can revive dead reefs - with young corals from coral nurseries!

Coral nursery on the seabed

How it works? Just dive in with us, we'll show you.

Diving goggles up and down into the turquoise sea: What many enjoy as holiday fun is part of everyday work for Nadia Bood from WWF and her colleague. They take care of corals in Laughing Bird Caye National Park.

The marine reserve is located in the Caribbean, more precisely: off the coast of Belize. It belongs to the Mesoamerican Reef. This is the second largest reef in the world and more than 1,000 kilometers long. That is much longer than from Kiel to Munich.

The two scientists take a look under the water to see how well their small coral seedlings have already grown and are thriving on the reef floor. The coral animals, which are just a few centimeters in size, should help to revive the reef.

Why is that so important?

More and more corals in the world's oceans are bleaching. What does that mean? Coral animals live with tiny algae that give them their color. If the water becomes significantly warmer due to climate change, some coral animals repel the algae, the coral animals bleach and can die.

It is getting warmer because of more and more greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, which we blow into the air to generate energy. This prevents the sun's heat from leaving our atmosphere. Much of this heat is then stored in the oceans.

Carbon dioxide also makes the oceans more acidic. This harms all living things that have calcium carbonate skeletons. Because more acidic water slows down the formation of limescale and can dissolve limescale. Bad, for example, for mussels, snails or crabs like lobsters.

In order to save the reefs, we therefore have to blow less greenhouse gases into the air.

We can also help the coral reefs directly: together with the organization “Fragments of Hope”, we at the WWF in Belize are making reefs alive again from destroyed reefs.

We have set up eleven “coral kindergartens” around the Laughing Bird Caye National Park. Each is about 15 feet long and 10 feet wide.

There we use particularly robust types of coral animals - especially elk antler corals (small picture), deer antler corals (large picture), star corals and brain corals. They all naturally live in the Caribbean Sea and cope better with the warmed sea water than other species.

Our diving colleagues find the right coral offshoots for the offspring, for example after storms in the sea - on torn pieces of reef.

The sprouts are then tied to lines under water as in the large picture above or attached to tables, where they grow on small plates.

Thousands of young corals are raised in this way every year in all eleven coral nurseries.

Depending on the species, it takes weeks or a few months for them to grow large enough (between 8 and 15 centimeters) to be released in damaged areas of the reef. There they are then fixed with a special concrete.

Volunteers from the local population help us with this. who are trained for it. In this way, 32 areas with a total area of ​​three hectares have already been repopulated with corals - that's an area larger than four football fields!

Already knew?

This is possible because corals can reproduce in two ways: Once through mating like all animals. And also by offshoots, very much like a plant.

The coral reef comes back to life

The WWF and its partners have been resetting corals for ten years. Now we know: the method works! The coral nurseries are blooming and thriving. And the newly planted reefs have a lot more living corals again.

And where there are more living corals, there are more crabs, mussels, fish and other animals. This is how the WWF helps coral reefs survive.

While diving, Nadia from WWF shows us how beautiful and diverse a healthy reef is.

Healthy reefs also help the people who live on the coast. Because coral reefs protect the coast from severe storms by breaking the waves and making them smaller.

In other regions of the world, too, the WWF is campaigning for the protection of corals.

In addition, the WWF is committed to ensuring that it is no more than 1.5 degrees warmer. To achieve this, politicians all over the world have to do a lot more than before. The WWF puts pressure on and helps them to make the right decisions more quickly so that fewer greenhouse gases are finally blown into the air.

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