Thursday June 20th, 2024
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‘World’s Largest’ Reef Restoration Project Revealed in Saudi Arabia

The Kaust Coral Restoration Initiative aims to produce 400,000 corals every year.

Scene Now Saudi

‘World’s Largest’ Reef Restoration Project Revealed in Saudi Arabia

Flip through a book about the ocean and you will likely see pictures of coral reefs teeming with colour and life. These bright, prismatic ecosystems are well-known and celebrated – unfortunately, they are also fading. However, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, one of Saudi Arabia’s top universities, is hoping to change that. This university is gearing up to expand an initiative that hopes to turn the tide on coral bleaching, a phenomenon that is killing one of the world’s most precious ecosystems.

The Kaust Coral Restoration Initiative aims to produce hundreds of thousands of new corals every year. In a successful pilot project, the university created a nursery on Saudi Arabia’s northwest Red Sea coast that is capable of generating 40,000 corals per year. Once grown, these corals are transported to damaged reefs, where they are able to support and revitalise the reefs in their new home. Now, the Kaust Coral Restoration Initiative is expanding to ten times its original size, hoping to generate 400,000 corals per year. If successful, this accomplishment will make it one of the largest projects of its kind.

This initiative could not come too soon. High temperatures are speeding coral bleaching, a stress response that causes corals to expel the microscopic algae that are crucial to their survival – and are also responsible for their jewel-like tones. This kills the reefs, which support around 25% of all marine biodiversity and are crucial for protecting coastlines from extreme weather.

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