Last year I was on Thailand tour with my German friends. One of them, Christian remembers,
He felt very sad after this statement and I kept on wondering about ways in which dead coral reef life could be brought back. But I should not feel sad anymore. Indian marine scientists have brought life back into coral reefs which were dead for as long as 10,000 years. Bringing back life into corals was possible using a technique called coral cuttings. It similar to grafting new rose shrubs with twigs taken from a mother plant. On the sample basis, marine scientists have restored a coral reef measuring one square km at the marine national park in the Gulf of Kutch off the Gujarat coast.
Experts have estimated using carbon dating that these corals died almost 10,000 years ago. And now only around 30% of the entire reef was found to be alive. A Reef is a mountain like structure inside the sea.
These sample graft corals were actually collected from the Gulf of Mannar off Tamil Nadu coast. Gulf of Munnar lies in between India and SriLanka. Coral cuttings, like rose plant twigs, can survive if transplanted in suitable environments. Since Gulf of Munnar and Gulf of Kutch share almost the same biotic and abiotic environmental factors, it was easier for the scientists to transport the corals from Tamilnadu to Gujarat.
Corals are very tiny animals that secrete a calcium carbonate shell over their body for their own protection. These shelling of Calcium Carbonate become an ideal place for other parasites who reside on the shells of Corals. Other Marine life who also take shelter on corals as a parasite and produce shells. Thus over the time, they form a mountain-like structures underwater, called reefs.
India has four major reef systems — Andamans, Lakshadweep, Gulf of Mannar and Gulf of Kutch. Coral reefs are called ‘rainforests of the sea’ because of the diversity of life they harbour. They harbour many species of fish, support tourism, and are a huge resource for the pharmaceutical industry. They are indicators of climate change and act as the first line of defence against cyclones, rapid underwater currents and tsunamis.