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Substance found to reduce coral bleaching

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Large-scale coral bleaching is confirmed in the sea off Taketomijima island, Okinawa Prefecture, in August 2016.

The Yomiuri ShimbunA team including researchers from Kyoto University announced that it has found a substance to reduce coral bleaching, which leads to the extinction of coral reefs.

Coral bleaching has been confirmed in waters near Okinawa Prefecture, Australia and other places in recent years. It could have an adverse effect on the ecosystem.

The team plans to conduct experiments in the sea to determine the effectiveness of the substance.

Many coral reefs are said to be in danger of extinction, partly due to higher ocean temperatures stemming from global warming.

When ocean temperatures reach 30 C, a significant amount of toxic active oxygen is produced inside corals, according to the researchers. The algae that coexist in the coral are then ejected from the coral, leaving the skeleton exposed and causing coral bleaching. Without algae, corals cannot get nutrition and eventually die, they said.

In their research, the team focused on an active oxygen-absorbing particle that was developed for medical use. When corals were put in a tank with seawater at a temperature of 33 C and no special action was taken, all the coral cells were dead within 10 days. However, when a particle compound was added to the water, the proportion of dead coral cells dropped by about 40 percent.

“The research could be a breakthrough for controlling coral bleaching. There are many unanswered questions about the mechanisms of coral bleaching. Whether the research actually works or not will need further verification,” said Tohoku University Assistant Prof. Shinichiro Maruyama, who is a specialist in evolutionary biology. Speech

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