Columbia’s ‘Improbable’ Reef Defies Odds And Offers Hope For Worldwide Corals

A coral reef exists near a major Columbian port, and scientists are learning why it has survived against the odds

Just off the shore of the city of Cartagena, home of one of Colombia’s biggest ports, lies a coral reef that campaigners are furiously battling to protect.

The Varadero reef, located in Cartagena Bay, has survived against the odds to thrive in a highly polluted environment. The Caribbean Sea bay, a major waterway for shipping vessels and cruise ships, is contaminated by industrial and sewage waste.

Shipping businesses are planning to expand the canal’s Bocachica Channel and build another passageway straight through the reef, meaning a quarter of it will be destroyed and the remainder threatened.

According to marine biologists, the reef should not be alive, and yet it has flourished, providing a home to a large number of coral, fish and urchin species.

‘Improbable and imperilled’

A report, written in 2017 by scientists, said the reef was “improbable and imperiled”.

Despite the close proximity of the reef to Cartagena’s one million-odd inhabitants, it remained concealed for so long due to the perception that the environment was too hostile for any reef to survive. Ninety percent of other reefs in the area are dead.

Photo: Ryan McMinds/Wikimedia Commons

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