After years of being threatened by human activity the Belize Barrier Reef is getting some relief. The government of Belize has been praised by UNESCO for taking some neat initiative to save the reef. Back in 1996 the reef was added to UNESCO’s world heritage sites which stirred the government into action. The progress of protections of the coral reef has increased over the years and hopefully other governments will follow the lead of Belize.
In December 2017, lawmakers passed a landmark moratorium on oil exploration in Belizean waters, which makes it one of only a handful of countries in the world with such legislation.
At its meeting in Bahrain on Monday, Unesco praised Belize’s “visionary plan to manage the coastline”, saying that “the level of conservation we hoped for has been achieved”.
Coral reefs are under threat. Recreational boating and increased shipping have increased the risk to coral reefs from humanity, and increased temperatures have caused coral acidification. There are scientists and biologists around the world trying to help protect coral reefs and revive some of their lost areas. A team in Florida is growing coral on PVC piping then transplanting the coral to endangered areas.
It shows little branches of staghorn coral growing on a “tree” made of PVC pipes. Harvested from wild coral colonies when they’re only 5 cm long, these samples will double in size every two months while attached to the tree. Once they’ve put on enough heft, they’re transplanted to new homes on damaged coral reefs, where they grow into the surrounding environment and help to restore ecosystems that could otherwise be lost. I’d heard about coral restoration before, but had never seen pictures of the process. At the RJD website, you can see a series of photos that take you through it step-by-step. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it looks a lot like underwater gardening â€” similar to grafting fruit trees.
You read that right: wind power generation can shelter sea life. Offshore wind farms help create spaces that encourage sea life to grow in a similar fashion to coral reefs.
Offshore wind power and wave energy foundations can increase local abundances of fish and crabs. The reef-like constructions also favour for example blue mussels and barnacles. What’s more, it is possible to increase or decrease the abundance of various species by altering the structural design of foundation. This was shown by Dan Wilhelmsson of the Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, in a recently published dissertation.
“Hard surfaces are often hard currency in the ocean, and these foundations can function as artificial reefs. Rock boulders are often placed around the structures to prevent erosion (scouring) around these, and this strengthens the reef function,” says Dan Wilhelmsson.