Hawaii is facing the third largest coral bleaching problem on the globe and one marine biologist has discovered a simple solution to the disaster.
Ruth Gates from the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology is the scientist making the steps towards saving the reef, in what she describes as a "human assisted evolution."
The process involves taking samples of strong and healthy pieces of coral and cloning them before breeding them to create a new class of "super coral," protected from withering.
Climate change is the major factor in coral bleaching and water temperature was a big part of Gates' experiments. When taking samples she noticed that some parts of the reef would sustain in the rising heat, while others died.
To combat this she tested out the healthier samples in increasing water temperatures, until left with the strongest specimens.
She then bred the two that survived the longest in the warmest conditions, creating the new "super strand" of coral.
Her experiments were successful, but the samples have not yet been introduced into the oceans.
The breakthrough is important at a time when the invertebrates continue to deplete an alarming rate, which could lead to the largest coral die-off in history.
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Despite all of her hard work, Gates is facing criticism from members of the scientific community who are claiming that genetically modifying coral isn't sustainable.
Although the scientist hit back at the claims: "I wish we didn't have to do this project - that would be the best possible scenario. But we are here, we're at a place where a very prominent coral reef could be fundamentally altered and massively degraded by 2050".Suggest a correction