Yellowtail snapper

Yellowtail snapper

Coral reefs are among the most biologically diverse environments in the world. Reefs provide millions of people with food, tourist dollars, and new medications. And in many instances, they protect coastlines from storm damage.

But reefs are very vulnerable. The corals, plants, fish and invertebrates of the reef systems are easily damaged by pollution, anchor dragging, and ship groundings such as that of the Clipper Lasco. This 645-foot cargo ship left a 20 X 100 foot gash in the reef off Ft. Lauderdale’s coast.

What I learned from my current client, Live Rock, Inc. is that reefs can be restored. It doesn’t happen overnight, but live rock–base rock cultured in Aquaculture or Mariculture sites to promote biological growth–can be transplanted to damaged reefs. Live corals can also be transplanted in some cases.

While not the ultimate solution to damaged reefs (which would be to prevent damage in the first place), it’s encouraging to know that it’s possible to rehabilitate these invaluable ecosystems. Thanks to the scientists and divers like Gary Levine for finding ways to keep our reefs alive.

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