The key to the survival of the world’s threatened coral reefs may lie in the waters surrounding a small volcanic island off the coast of Japan, scientists say.
The seabed of Shikine island is a “living laboratory” for researchers aboard the schooner Tara, a French-led scientific expedition, who are looking for clues to help protect coral from the damaging effects of climate change.
While coral reefs cover less than 0.2 percent of the ocean surface globally, they host some 30 percent of marine animal and plant species, serving as a source of food and offering protection from predators.
“Losing these reefs would be horrifying,” said Sylvain Agostini, an expedition coordinator and professor at Japan’s University of Tsukuba.
Shikine’s unique conditions—created by underwater volcanoes that flood some of its coves with CO2 and make it less alkaline—mimic what scientists say will be the impact of unchecked carbon emissions on the world’s oceans by 2100.
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