Racing to save Florida’s coral from climate change, scientists turn to a once-unthinkable strategy: ‘assisted evolution’

In a hurricane-proof lab miles down the Florida Keys, scientists coddle, the way a parent might, tiny pieces of coral from the moment they are spawned until they are just hearty enough to be separated into specimens equipped to survive in the wild.

Then these dark-green fragments are put through misery, plunged into tanks mimicking the hotter, more acidic waters projected to one day overtake the tropical region. Many coral samples will die, but those that endure the hostile testing will be painstakingly transplanted back in the Atlantic.

For generations, marine biologists working around this stunning, 360-mile coral reef made sure their research didn’t disturb the fragile kaleidoscope of marine habitat so critical to the local ecosystem, not to mention a multibillion-dollar tourist economy.

But as global warming rapidly brings the natural wonder to the brink of extermination, scientists are abandoning their hands-off approach in favor of a once-unthinkable strategy: a massive intervention to manipulate the natural balance of the reef.

Read the entire article at LAtimes.com