While coral bleaching has long been identified as a serious concern on a global scale, coral reef bleaching solutions are few and far between. Scientists have pinpointed the exact conditions required for healthy coral development, and they know what natural and man-made stressors play a role in the coral bleaching process. However, viable solutions for countering them on a large scale are still being discussed. Because time is short, and saving the planet’s coral reef populations would take enormous resources, there are still only a few solutions that can be used successfully today.
One of the most practical and essential coral reef bleaching solutions is to inform the general public about the impact that certain practices have on the environment. Initiatives like recycling have paid off in the past, and have helped diminish our impact on the environment as a whole. However, people are still unaware of the damage that coral bleaching can inflict on the environment as a whole, and not just on ocean life. As a result, educating people about the best ways to clean up beaches and bays, avoid throwing damaging substances in the water, and prevent damaging fishing and diving practices can work a great deal toward helping to prevent coral reef bleaching on a global scale.
Since water quality and the initial health of coral reefs can have an important impact on whether or not bleaching sets in, local protection initiatives have become one of the most recommended coral reef bleaching solutions in the world. Institutions like the Nature Conservatory are pushing for a number of initiatives that could slow or even reverse coral reef bleaching in some areas. They include the establishment of protected area networks, the improved management and design of modern marine parks, as well as enhanced management strategies designed to help people and officials respond better to coral reef bleaching events. With proper protection practices, some resilient reefs can even improve and become restored to being completely healthy. This process will, of course, be made more difficult by global warming and climate change as well.
A recently proposed initiative to stop the devastating bleaching events affecting the Great Barrier Reef involves the pumping of cold water into the area, in order to try reducing the temperature of the water around the Barrier Reef. This measure was labeled “Band-Aid,” and is still in the works, with an estimated cost of $9 million. The Reef and Rainforest Research Centre and many organizations in the tourist industry support the solution and consider it a highly localized but potentially practical solution that could be enhanced for future applications. Although it doesn’t solve the problem, this is one of the most ambitious coral reef bleaching solutions ever suggested.