Dr. David Vaughan wants to plant 1 million corals in only 2 years

Meet Florida-based Dr. David Vaughan, who wants to plant a million corals in just 2 years. He accidentally found a way to grow corals really fast and re-plants corals on existing pieces to restore the reefs. A humble yet very much needed project, as our underwater rainforests are vanishing due to climate change and human activity. Watch the video above to see Dr. Vaughan explain how to reach his goal.

Dr. David Vaughan (left) and a colleague working with coral pieces

Eureka mistake

As a researcher and former director of the Mote Marine Laboratory in Florida, Dr. Vaughan spent a lot of time working with corals. One day, a coral piece in his tanks broke, which he thought would be devastating. But instead the coral restored and reproduced itself so quick, that the doctor had found a way to grow coral heads in only 2 years instead of 25-75.

The technique is called micro-fragmentation. By breaking a piece of coral, it will work extra hard to restore and grow itself, just like our skin does when we fall down and scratch ourselves.  One piece of coral can turn into hundreds of small pieces now. Micro-fragmentation allows Dr. Vaughan and his team to grow corals 25-40 times faster than in nature.

Action is needed

The underwater world is an unknown world to many, but it is in incredible danger. Due to climate change – ocean water temperatures are rising fast – and localised human activity, such as diving, snorkeling and fishing, 25-40% of the coral population is already lost. If we don’t take action now, 99% of all coral reefs will be gone by the end of this century. Speaking to BrightVibes, Dr. David Vaughan said:

“If that happened on land, if all went outside and all of our trees and grass and shrubs had turned white overnight, we would do something to change it. But because they’re underwater, not seen directly by everybody, it really is the secret life of corals, and we need to make that known.” 

It is a very critical problem if the coral reefs and their populations extinct. 500 million people in the world depend on them for food and income, like tourism.

Coral reefs cover less than 1% of earth surface…

But are home to 25% of marine species and provide coastal protection

Coral reefs are home to 25% of underwater life

Plant a million corals foundation

Restoring corals is a stopgap. We still need to address climate change, which is the biggest factor here for all of us.”  Although this is not the final solution, it is needed and a good start to restore underwater life. 100,000 corals already have been planted by the Plant A Million Corals Foundation and partners. Now the foundation is set to teach others around the world how to grow and restore corals.

“What we’re doing is not only ourselves working on planting a million corals but working on teaching other people how to do this as well with our workshops and teaching technicians, how to either start and design their own programs in their own communities.” – Dee Dee Vaughan

They host workshops with international participants, but also they produce shippable coral nurseries. And the foundation works together with partners, for example the hotel industry in the Maldives. They do everything to mobilise potential conservationists from around the world.

Dr. Vaughan also released a new book about corals on November 15th. In the All Creatures Podcast he talks about his book and discusses coral restoration, the importance of coral reefs and his work with the foundation. The Secret Life of Corals: sex, war and rocks that don’t roll is available for ordering now.

Growing corals by the micro-fragmentation technique

Others around the world are also working on restoring corals and bringing them back to life. So is the big Danish energy company Ørsted. Read this BrightVibes article about their project of growing corals on wind turbines in Taiwan.



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