A study from Arizona State University has suggested that sunken ships could be a perfect breeding ground for corals, a solution that could help to protect coral biodiversity from warming surface waters.
Asner, the director of ASU's Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science, who has surveyed and dived across several major reefs in the world, made the exciting discovery. During the expedition he described how slowly, the bright colours of the corals began to ‘pop’ out at him as he approached the large steel structure of the aircraft carrier.
“And then pop, a coral colony, and pop, another coral colony, and pop, another one. But even then, I wasn't sure what we would get,” he said. “My dive team rushed (because of the extreme depth) to survey, and I ran the longest survey video transects using a rebreather for deep diving.”
The team also gathered data from several other locations, including ships from across Bikini Atoll and Chuuk Lagoon.
Overall the team identified 34 groups of coral species at Bikini and 51 groups at Chuuk. They also found that the length of the ship, rather than the depth of water it lay in, appeared to have a direct correlation with the amount and quality of the coral. Researchers also noted that the artificial reefs lie at depths that aren’t effected by marine heat waves, therefore avoiding consequences that effect reefs located at a shallower depth.
Although further studies and research will need to be conducted to asses the discovery in more depth, it lights a beacon of hope for the future of coral reefs.