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Conservationists embark on underwater 'Noah's Ark' project to preserve coral reefs: 'Making a kind of backup'

"We are in a situation where we really need to be taking any possible action we can."

"We are in a situation where we really need to be taking any possible action we can."

Photo Credit: Burgers' Zoo

A UNESCO study from 2017 said all of the world's coral reefs could be gone by 2100. Threatened by warmer waters, overfishing, and pollution, many reefs are losing color and unable to survive.

In response, Burgers' Zoo in the Netherlands has begun a World Coral Conservatory project to preserve the endangered reefs by creating a "Noah's Ark" of coral.

Reserve populations of coral will be developed in aquariums that can be monitored and optimized so that the produced reefs are able to thrive. The idea is to maintain and boost the coral population with the intention of reintroducing the species to its habitat once the waters cool and conditions improve.

One of the zoo's biologists, Nienke Klerks, said: "This project is making a kind of backup of corals so in case they die out in the wild, we'll still have them in the aquaria." 

However, Reuters reported that because of the slow growth rates of corals, it will be years before the endangered species will be able to return home.

The preservation of coral reefs is crucial to the ecosystems they inhabit. According to the Natural History Museum, more than 500 million people rely on reefs for food, jobs, and coastal defense. They're also a habitat for thousands of other underwater species. 

While the Burgers' Zoo is doing its part to save the reefs, you can do yours too, no matter where you live. Recycling and composting are great ways to keep waste out of our waterways and oceans.

Choosing to walk or take public transportation when possible are among many ways to save money while minimizing air pollution that leads to increasing global temperatures that put coral species at risk. 

There are all kinds of ways to cool this planet by making small, easy changes in your daily routines and habits.

The World Coral Conservatory project is joined by the efforts of the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco and two French aquariums with the hope that more zoos and aquariums across Europe will join the cause.

Mark Eakin, executive secretary of the International Coral Reef Society, told the Associated Press: "We are in a situation where we really need to be taking any possible action we can."

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