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Full Recovery for Coral Reef Within 4 Years – The Speed of Restoration They Saw was ‘Incredible’

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In a truly monumental discovery, scientists studying coral restoration in Indonesia found that artificially restored coral reefs can regrow as fast a naturally occurring reefs just 4 years after the initial transplantation.

With many reefs around the world believed to be threatened by stronger storms and acidic seas, the finding shows that as long as corals can survive in the water, humans can quickly rebuild reefs that are damaged.

The study was conducted at the Mars Coral Reef Restoration Program in South Sulawesi, Indonesia, one of the largest restoration projects in the world, and included an international team of marine biologists. The site was turned from a colorful reef to rubble 30 to 40 years ago from dynamite fishing.

At the project site, “reef stars” are first affixed to the seafloor. These small, recycled metal scaffolds provide a foundation for the coral larvae to glom onto and begin building their hard bodies.

“Corals constantly add calcium carbonate to the reef framework while some fishes and sea urchins erode it away, so calculating the overall carbonate budget basically tells you if the reef as a whole is growing or shrinking,” says Ines Lange of University of Exeter, UK.

“Positive reef growth is important to keep up with sea-level rise, protect coastlines from storms and erosion, and provide habitat for reef animals.”

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