Coral Restoration in India: About Coral Reefs; Threats; Coral Bleaching; Coral Restoration in India and World
Coral Reefs are submarine morphological creatures with organic calcium’s structures. These are wonderful, natural, wonder, and among the world's oldest, most diverse, and most productive ecosystems.
- They represent the mutual relationship between coral animals and blue, green algae called zooxanthellae.
- Corals obtain part of their livelihood from seawater, and the remainder comes from the algae that live on the coral's tissue.
- The coral gives a protected environment to the algae and compounds required for photosynthesis. In exchange, the algae produce oxygen and help the coral to remove wastes.
- Corals live in huge colonies, and their body is attached to one another.
- When corals die, the other corals grow on the dead calcareous debris.
- The coral reefs form along the coast, islands, or sea mountains. Winds provide the foundation.
- Corals growth depends upon the calcium carbonate obtained from the sea.
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Locations in India where it found
In India, Coral reefs are present in the areas of
- Gulf of Kutch
- Gulf of Mannar
- Andaman & Nicobar Island
- Lakshadweep Islands
- Malvan (Maharashtra).
Threats to Coral Reef
Since the last few decades, coral reefs are declining because of both natural and anthropogenic factors
Sediments from the river
- Coral Bleaching is a typical stress response of corals to disturbances in the conditions of corals.
- Bleaching happens when the densities of zooxanthellae decline or when the concentration of photosynthetic pigments within the zooxanthellae fall.
- If the stress-causing Bleaching is not severe and if it decreases with time, the affected corals usually regain their symbiotic algae within several weeks or a few months.
- If zooxanthellae loss is prolonged, i.e., if the stress continues and depleted zooxanthellae populations do not recover, the coral host eventually dies.
- Some of the common factors behind coral bleaching are
- Runoff from agricultural land and chemical pollution results in eutrophication and subsequent oxygen depletion.
- Destructive fishing and boating practices lead to habitat destruction and the disintegration of the reef ecosystem.
- Marine Pollution: Incidents such as an increase in sea transport, oil spill, etc. destroy coral reefs
- Uncontrolled tourism activities lead to the breakage of coral colonies and lead to tissue damage.
- The introduction of invasive species in the ocean by humans leads to change in the coral ecosystem.
- Coral mining: In this, live coral is removed from reefs for use as bricks, etc.
- Ocean acidification- With increased pollution, Carbon Dioxide is absorbed by the ocean leading to rising Carbonic acid in water. As coral has Calcium carbonate as the main component, it reacts with Carbonic acid and slowly dissolves down.
Need for Coral Restoration
- The coral reef provides sites for a diverse variety of plants and animals.
- It is a Storehouse of living resources like fish. Reef fish accounts for about 15% of the worldwide fish catch
- They are a source of tourism revenue.
- Coral reefs help moderate atmospheric temperature by removing CO2 from the atmosphere.
- Coral reefs protect coastlines from wave erosion.
Measures were taken for coral restoration at the global level
- International Coral Reef Initiative It is an informal partnership between Nations.
- The objective of the partnership is to preserve coral reefs and related ecosystems around the world
- It had declared 2018 as the third international year of the reef to spread awareness globally about the value of, and a threat to, coral reefs and associated ecosystems.
- Chapter 17 of Agenda 21 addresses the protection and sustainable development of the marine and coastal environment
- UN Environment world conservation monitoring centre
- International conference on status and protection of coral reef also held to spread awareness about the security of the coral reef
According to a study, since 1982, three mass bleaching events occurred in 1998, 2010, and 2016 have occurred in India.
Measures taken for coral restoration by India are
- Reef Watch India- An NGO, has taken up two projects to conserve the reefs.
- Re(ef)Build:- It involves the restoring and rehabilitation of coral reefs at the Andamans by rescuing naturally broken coral fragments that would otherwise get smothered in the sand and die and reattaching them to a robust substratum.
- The Gujarat forest department and the Zoological Survey of India are attempting to restore coral reefs using bio rock technology.
- A biostructure was installed one nautical mile off the Mithapur coast in the Gulf of Kutch
- Bio rock means a substance formed by electro accumulation of minerals dissolved in seawater on steel structures that are lowered onto the sea- bed and are connected to a power source.
- The technology works by sending a small amount of electrical current through electrodes in the water.
- When negatively charged cathode and positively charged anode are placed on the seafloor, and the electric current flows between them, calcium ions and carbonate ions combine and adhere to the structure (cathode).
- It results in calcium carbonate formation. Coral larvae adhere to the CaCO3 and proliferate.
- The fragments of broken corals are tied to the bio-rock structure, where they can grow faster than their actual growth as they need not spend their energy
Coral Bleaching Alert System (CBAS)- a service initiated from INCOIS uses the satellite-derived Sea Surface Temperature (SST) to assess the thermal stress accumulated in the coral environs.
The government of India has taken steps to protect its coral reefs under the Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction System (COMPS), Land-Ocean Interactions in Coastal zones (LOICZ), and Integrated Coastal and Marine Area Management (ICMAM).