When it comes to the decline of the health of our environment, many refer to the loss of life in the Australian Great Barrier Reef. That glorious cluster of coral is not the only reef unable to adapt quickly enough to rapid climate change. A widely known fact is that corals around the world are perishing due to the exponentially rapid spike of heat on the Earth’s surface. However, there is one reef in Columbia that is not just surviving—it’s thriving.
The Caribbean Sea bay is a major intersection for shipping vessels and cruise ships, making the area highly polluted by industrial and sewage debris and waste. The conditions are so hostile—killing 90% of the other reefs in that area—that no one thought any coral could survive. However, there is one resilient reef prospering in that exact location. The Varadero reef in Colombia’s Magdalena River remained hidden until accidentally discovered in 2013. The rest of the Caribbean coral cover has decreased from an average of 50% to 10%, but the Varadero reef stands tall at a high coral cover of 45.1%.
Scientists highlight that the reef is not only flourishing, but also providing a high species diversity by offering hospitality to a plethora of species, including sponges, lobster, urchins, and fish. The coral community was compared to those of a nearby reef in a less-polluted area, and according to current standards, the features of the Varadero reef were categorized to be in “good condition”. All things considered, the quality of characteristics this reef possesses is astounding.
Earlier in 2017, the reef was deemed a marine “hope spot” by Mission Blue, a global network dedicated to the exploration and protection of the ocean. Hope Spots were introduced by Dr. Sylvia Earle in 2009, and the idea has inspired millions around the world. This concept is about empowerment, recognition, and support of individuals motivated to take a stand in ocean protection. You can read about another fascinating Hope Spot in this excerpt.
The unexpected beauty and resilience displayed by the Varadero reef can provide essential information as we assess how corals will survive climate change and anthropogenic pollution. By analyzing this reef, we can fill in blanks about genetics, evolution, and coral ecology as to how these corals have adapted to prosper while others around the world have not. With another piece of the puzzle, the Varadero reef can provide hope that nature is finding a way to bloom in adversity.
Have you ever visited one of the beautiful Hope Spots around the world?