Ocean temperatures have been extremely hot this summer, wreaking havoc on some of the world’s highly vulnerable coral reefs. With marine heat waves only expected to get worse as the climate changes, scientists are increasingly focusing on an emergency plan: collecting coral specimens and safeguarding them onshore.
A library of corals, brought in from the wild, could be an insurance policy in the face of climate change, providing the genetic material to restore the reefs of the future. For long-term storage, some corals could end up in the deep freezer.
Scientists are working on preserving corals by cryogenically freezing them. In a new study, a team from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, UC Berkeley and the University of Hawaii at Manoa report they successfully brought a coral fragment back to life after freezing it at -196 degrees Celsius.