Coral reefs are extremely important to our planet. They’re home to about 25% of all marine life, protect shorelines and coastal communities during storms and help provide a source of food to millions of humans worldwide.
Today, coral populations are in decline around the world due to a variety of challenges they face in the wild from climate change, ocean acidification, compromised habitats and destructive fishing practices. That’s why Birch Aquarium is committed to coral conservation.
Birch Aquarium has been propagating coral for more than 20 years. Over the years, we’ve shared generations of coral with Scripps researchers and accredited zoos and aquariums worldwide. Our work helps reduce pressures on wild populations and supports critical research.
Sometimes, coral will break off or “fragment.” This fragmentation is a natural process corals experience in some shape or form — waves, storms, and even animals living on coral reefs cause coral to break off into smaller pieces. For many species of coral, these fragments can keep living, and even grow into larger colonies of coral if conditions are ideal. Behind the scenes, our aquarists mimic this natural process and carefully fragment coral into smaller pieces. With proper care, these small fragments can grow into new coral colonies over the course of time.
Research in Action: 100 Island Challenge
Research in Action: 100 Island Challenge habitat doubles as a working laboratory for Scripps scientists to develop techniques and test equipment before traveling to remote locations. The goal of the 100 Island Challenge is to gain a holistic understanding of the current state and future trajectory of the world’s coral reefs by conducting a global assessment of coral reefs and the factors promoting or inhibiting their growth.