You have likely participated in a census before, but did you know there’s a census for corals, too? Using head counts and other available data, researchers recently estimated that there are more corals in the Pacific Ocean than some might expect – half a trillion, to be exact.
This is “incredibly encouraging” news, Nancy Knowlton, a retired coral reef biologist at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, told Science.
“The biggest take-home message is that it’s not hopeless, even if corals have been painted as the canary in the coal mine. Having a clear set of numbers makes it easier to figure out what to do next.”
Climate change has negatively impacted countless coral reefs, causing mass bleaching events in the world’s most breathtaking underwater places, from the Great Barrier Reef in the Coral Sea to Maldivian reefs in the Indian Ocean. It makes oceans warmer and more acidic, weakening the calcium carbonate that forms a coral's skeleton.
While coral bleaching continues around the world, this study offers hope. It proves there are vibrant, abundant corals that we can preserve while we still have the chance. By shielding coral reefs from other threats, like bottom trawling and plastic pollution, we can give them a fighting chance of withstanding the impacts of climate change.
Watch the video above to learn more about these latest findings, and join Oceana to protect our oceans from climate change and other threats.