(WFLA, NBC NEWSCHANNEL) Coral reefs throughout the world are dying because of global warming.
Scientists at Florida's Mote Marine Laboratory say around 40 percent of the world's coral has died. In many cases it's due to coral bleaching which is caused by rising ocean temperatures from global warming. The rising temperatures place stress on the coral, forcing them to expel the colorful algae in their tissues.
Corals serve vital roles; they support a multi-billion dollar tourism industry, the reefs are home to many of the fish and sea life we eat every day, and they provide a barrier during hurricanes and storm surge.
Dr. David Vaughan with Mote Marine Laboratory is trying to save them. He and his team have developed a method to regrow coral. They raise tiny pieces of coral in labs then they place these fragments onto dead coral skeletons, where they multiply and grow.
"We thought it would take hundreds of years. But now, we've learned to grow corals in record time," says Dr. Vaughan.
Reefs can take centuries to grow naturally, but with this new method, an entire reef can be restored in one to three years.
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