14 Oct 2022
Our new project 'Malaysia's Super Corals' aims to identify climate resilient corals for restoration.
September and October are busy months for us at Coralku: annual surveys of coral reef health need to be performed, temperature data loggers have to be retrieved before the northeast monsoon season starts, and coral nurseries need a final prepping-touch too, while all our outplanted corals need to be surveyed.
Next to all this, we launched our new project: Malaysia's Super Corals.
Let's start with basics, what are 'Super Corals'? We define Super Corals as corals with superior heat tolerance. This means that these corals stand a better chance to survive marine heatwaves and climate change. The images below show various coral species during a marine heatwave in 2019. These images highlight that some corals were not bleached white (meaning that visually these were not showing signs of stress).
This observation (research paper is coming soon!) ignites a simple thought, that mother nature does it best, and some corals are more resilient to high temperatures stress than other. But exactly how can we harvest this resilience to enhance climate change suvirval of corals in our nurseries? A big task, that requires a lot of research, and we are championing the search for Malaysia's Super Corals to harness this natural resilience for restoration.
Together with our partners from Project PULIH, Triton Society and the University of Konstanz, we embark on a journey to find super corals, and answer some of the most understudied, yet impactful, questions in coral restoration: what is the extent of heat stress tolerance in Malaysian hard corals? How universal is such thermal tolerance across reef sites and environments? Can we harvest this resilience to enchance long-term climate change survival? Can we use these Super Corals for coral restoration?
Our research hopes to answer some of these questions, and our team has started to conduct experiments in the novel Coral Bleaching Automated Stress System, or short CBASS.
CBASS is a low-cost experiment that tests the physiological response of corals to heat stress. In essence, it is like putting corals on treadmill to see which one is the fittest. Initial insights were interesting, and we are poised to continue this research in February 2023 after the monsoon season.
A sneak peek is available on our social media: