“The Global Coral Repository is the greatest technological breakthrough in marine conservation since the invention of SCUBA.”
John E. Fauth, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology
University of Central Florida
“This is one of those rare brilliant ideas that in hindsight seem so obvious that one marvels that it hasn’t been done already. Coral repositories will be more challenging to maintain than the Svalbard Global Seed Vault because the repositories will require a continuous supply of liquid nitrogen. At a time when the news at so many levels is consistently depressing, it is wonderful to hear that a such great application of technology is being planned to save coral taxa for future generations.”
Pamela Hallock Muller, Ph.D.
Professor College of Marine Science
University of South Florida
“Coral reefs are undergoing a worldwide crisis with losses of important reef-building corals exceeding 90% in some locations. Since the mid 1970s coral cover has been drastically reduced, especially in the Caribbean, as a result of coral diseases, coral reef bleaching events and other factors, many of which are poorly understood. As a result of these declines, two species have already been listed on the U.S. Endangered Species Act (Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis) and a recent IUCN Red List Evaluation identified approximately 1/3 of all shallow water reef building corals in categories with elevated risk of extinction. Many potential solutions to ameliorate this crisis have been identified, but few have been tested and demonstrated as successful. Coral reef restoration has also been suggested as a viable means to restore degraded reefs, and considerable advances have been made through the development of coral nurseries, in situ culturing of coral fragments, and laboratory fertilization and grow-out of corals raised from gametes collected during mass spawning events. Nevertheless, problems with these approaches exist, including an inability to restore a degraded reef without first mitigating the impacts responsible for the decline in the first place.
Through work done by Haereticus Environmental Laboratory, in partnership with Oxford University and Zoological Society of London, scientists have developed a method to cryo-preserve coral tissue, successfully thaw these specimens, and raise them up into a new colony. In addition, they developed a technique to grow corals from a tiny tissue biopsy, smaller than an individual polyp, allowing them to produce hundreds or possibly thousands of colonies from an individual clone, without causing major impacts to the donor colony. With additional collections, it will be possible to archive samples of nearly every species of coral and many genetic lines, preserving these for the future.
The Living Oceans Foundation is very supportive of this type of work, and believes it has the potential to contribute to the successful restoration of degraded coral reefs once the conditions responsible for their decline are identified and addressed. I look forward to potential collaborations in this effort.“
Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation
“The development of practical methods for cryopreserving corals, then growing them on successfully after thawing is a real breakthrough for marine conservation; it provides an unprecedented opportunity to save species through the serious application of cryobiology. Occasionally, cryobiology develops the potential to revolutionize something of worldwide importance, such as the entire livestock breeding industry, which now relies heavily on global trade in frozen semen and embryos.
There are obvious parallels between the Global Coral Repository and the establishment of major national and international seed banks for conserving plants of agricultural importance, one of them being the need for action on a grand scale so that important ecosystems can one day be restored to their appropriate status.”
Professor William Holt
Godfather of veterinary cryogenics
Head of Reproductive Biology
Institute of Zoology
“Some years ago, I gave up all hope for the future of the ecosystem on which I had worked for a half-century. Coral reefs seemed to be doomed. The right steps were not taken, and many wrong steps were. I began to think, If only there were some way to preserve corals over bad times, and supply corals to good places…The Global Coral Repository is the perfect answer. It is the one bright light on a dismal landscape.”
“The devastation seen after a coral reef has been destroyed is heartbreaking for environmentalists, tourists, research scientists and those whose livelihoods are dependent on the productivity of a vulnerable reef. As a researcher, I am committed to finding ways to help manage or mitigate this destruction by understanding the breakdown of the delicate symbiosis between the coral animal and its resident algae. The Global Coral Repository represents one potential solution to the long-term sustainability of reefs, should they be unable to recover from on-going human induced damage.”
Professor Peter Ralph
C3 Aquatic Processes Group Leader
Plant Functional Biology and Climate Change Cluster (C3)
University of Technology, Sydney
“Coral reefs are the oldest, most complex ecosystems in the sea. They are reservoirs for much of the world’s biodiversity. They are some of the most important organelles of our complex biosphere that provides the natural infrastructure to support life. Sadly, we are very, very late in our recognition that reefs have and are deteriorating faster than anyone could have imagined when I began studying reefs in 1969. Since then we have documented declining ocean health in which marine diseases are commonplace, fisheries have collapsed, and land-based pollution has compromised coastal waters – now, coral reefs are facing extinction. Clearly, the collapsing health of reefs reflects a severely compromised ocean.
Some day, far in the future, when humans have come to their senses, I truly hope they will be able to dig into cryobanks to begin the process of restoring the Earth’s ecological integrity. To me, The Global Coral Repository represents a bold, pragmatic forward thinking start towards providing options to these generations who will be trying to understand why we tried to kill the planet. It represents an exciting beginning of a wonderful sacred gift that is critical to the future of humankind.”
Phil Dustan Ph.D.
Professor of Biology
Fellow of the Linnean Society of London
“The Global Coral Repository is a ray of hope on what otherwise is a bleak outlook for coral reefs globally. Creating a “safety box” containing samples of the World’s corals may represent our last chance should we go beyond the point of no return and destroy, either actively or by standing by and doing nothing, our Global inheritance, and that of our children’s. With luck the desperate need for the repository will serve as a wake-up call for us, our communities, our nations and our governments and spur us into action to protect the reefs before all we have left are stories to tell our grandchildren.”
Misool Eco Resort