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Sentinels of the sea: ancient boulder corals are key to reef survival in a warmer world

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on The Conversation or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: Seas around Australia this month have reached concerning levels of warming, with significant marine heatwaves posing a threat to coral ecosystems
• These conditions are perilous for coral reefs, as every incremental increase in ocean temperature heightens the risk of coral bleaching and mortality
• The focus is on protecting and enhancing the resilience of corals, especially the ancient boulder corals vital for reef survival in warmer conditions.

🔭 The context: Boulder corals, which can live for over 600 years and grow more than 10 meters high, are integral to the reef ecosystem, providing habitat for marine life and demonstrating significant resilience to environmental stresses
This resilience is crucial as the oceans face unprecedented challenges from climate change
• Efforts are underway to study and protect these corals, including mapping their distribution and understanding their tolerance to warming.

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: Coral reefs are vital for marine biodiversity and the well-being of human societies relying on them
• The warming seas and resulting stress on coral ecosystems underscore the urgent need to address climate change by cutting greenhouse gas emissions 
• In the short term, enhancing coral resilience and protecting vulnerable species are critical steps to mitigate the impacts of climate change on reefs.

⏭️ What's next: Research and conservation efforts are focused on understanding boulder corals better and devising strategies to protect them, including public education, managing visitor numbers to reefs, and implementing conservation actions
• The goal is to inform reef management and bolster the resilience of these ecosystems against climate change and other stressors.

💬 One quote: "We must protect – and learn from – these sentinels of the sea."

📈 One stat: Boulder corals can live for more than 600 years, serving as crucial components of the reef ecosystem through their longevity and resilience.

Click for more news covering the latest on environmental sustainability


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