According to a new study that took place over the course of 22 months, three common coral species in Hawaii may be more resistant to the effects of climate change, sparking hope for the future survival of corals.
For the study, the researchers used forty separate tanks to simulate four different conditions that we are currently seeing and could potentially see in the future. These conditions included current ocean conditions, which would help the researchers accurately measure the changes, acidified ocean conditions, warming ocean conditions and finally a combination of acidification and warming conditions.
The first coral species the researchers identified was two Porites species, which both had better survival rates with increased temperatures and acidification. This particular species is widely seen across the world, and is an important species for reef-building. The third species that showed resistance to the changes was the Montipora capitata species. It showed that again despite increasing temperatures, it could still survive.
After an initial analysis, the data has revealed that the special Montipora capitata had a survival rate of around 46%, whilst the Porites species had a higher survival rate of 71%. However the researchers speculate that in the ocean these rates could be even higher, as the corals will have increased access to one of their main food sources, zooplankton.
Other heat-resistant corals have already been identified in the northern tip of the Red Sea, which showed capabilities of withstanding temperature increases of up to 7°C. These are all positive signs that there is still hope for our coral reefs of the future!