Project Ocean-Shot aims to restore dead coral reefs

Scientists say that global warming is contributing to the decline of coral reefs around the world. Marine scientist Deborah Brosnan says she remembers diving on a coral reef near the Caribbean island of Saint Barthelemy, where she swam a reef teeming with life. She returned to the same location after hurricane Irma in 2017 and dove the reef again to discover that it was dead with no sea creatures and no living coral.

Now project Ocean-Shot, which was announced last week, plans to use technology that mimics the design and shape of natural reefs to provide opportunities for colonization by coral and other marine life. The constructed reef modules will also help protect nearby coastal communities from storm surge and sea-level rise.

Scientists on the project will test new technologies that aim to speed up coral growth which typically takes more than a decade to restore a single hectare of coral. The team will also use a nearby coral nursery to grow several species that will eventually help populate the artificial reef area. Scientists say coral reefs are at a critical point as more than half of the world's coral reefs have been lost, and the rest are at risk.

Scientists worry about corals because they support more than 25 percent of all marine biodiversity. Inhabitants of coral reefs include turtles, fish, lobster, and many other varieties. Reefs also serve as a protective barrier to coastal communities to protect them against storms. The Ocean-Shot project is starting to operate in Antigua and Barbuda and will be replicated in other Caribbean and Latin American locations. The program may also find a home in other parts of the world in the future.