'Super-corals' found in Kaneohe Bay give researchers a glimmer of hope
Under constant threat of climate change, the coral reef population around the world is dwindling.
But a researcher says coral found in Kaneohe Bay provides a glimmer of hope and a sign of resilience.
Christopher Jury, a researcher for the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology says, "Much to our surprise, there are a huge number of of corals that are naturally growing in Kaneohe Bay that are very tolerant of higher sea water temperatures and more acidic waters."
They are called "super-corals."
Jury says when a major coral bleaching event, fueled by climate change struck Hawaii five years ago, roughly ninety percent of the coral in waters off the Big Island were killed.
Most of the coral bleached in Kaneohe Bay survived and recovered.
Due to normal human activity dating back 90-years most of that coral was destroyed.
"The people here in the local community were unhappy with that situation and in the 1970's they worked very hard to change the situation."
UH Researchers tested three coral species from about a dozen colonies in Kaneohe and Waimanalo Bay by exposing them to warm or acidic waters over a period of five weeks.
"What we found is the corals that grow here in Kaneohe Bay where it is naturally warmer, naturally more acidic, they're much more tolerant of those conditions that corals and that reefs are likely going to be seeing in a few decades," Jury explains.
Research proves there's a chance coral could thrive globally.
"They might be rare right now. In the future, they could become much more abundant, if we give them a chance."
Jury says if we don't do something to reduce climate change now, even these super corals won't survive.
He predicts they could be gone within 20 to 30 years.
"We have a chance to preserve coral reefs if we address climate change. If we address local impacts. We have an opportunity if we take it."
Mika Miyashima, KITV4 Island News.