Marine scientist Enric Sala was astonished to dive at the Millenium (Caroline) Atoll in the South Pacific Ocean in 2021 and find that the coral reef that he had been told had been destroyed due to warmer water in 2015/2016 was actually thriving and teeming with fish and largely unchanged from when he had dived there in 2009.
This preservation was due to efforts by the island nation of Kiribati’s to protect the reef from fishing and other damaging human activities. Despite these protections Sala was certain that the widespread climate change effects would have wreaked destruction on the reef. It turned out that a lower number of coral had died than had been reported but it was really the profusion of fish that was responsible for the reef’s restoration from a sun-bleached state. The plentiful fish were “eating all the algae that would smother the dead coral skeletons, and make it impossible for the corals to come back, which is what happens in other places like the Caribbean” according to Sala.
Nature, when left alone, is surprisingly resilient and fairly modest human ‘rewilding’ efforts coupled with well thought out and implemented protections can reap fantastic results. The example above is one of many.
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