Marine ecologists are removing corals from the Red Sea and moving them to another location to prevent them from dying during maintenance work on a pier.
A dozen feet deep in the blue waters of the Red Sea, Israeli marine ecologist Assaf Zvuloni firmly grasped a bright red coral stuck to a metal pile.
Coral and other nearby would likely perish in planned maintenance work on the site, degrading all the benefits they bring to underwater life.
So to save them, Zvuloni and his colleague Assaf Habary wore diving gear and provided chisels and hammers before plunging into the water to remove the corals and take them to a new location.
"We need to safeguard them," said Habary of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority after the dive.
It is important "to maintain the health of the ecosystem," he said.
Corals are a species protected under Israeli law and the Nature and Parks Authority was entrusted with their relocation
On a recent day, Habary, regional manager of the Gulf authority of Eilat, placed a chisel on the bottom of the red coral and began to strike with care, causing a loud crash echoing through the silent sea.
Coral uses the 16-meter pillars supporting an oil pier in the southern Israeli city of Eilat as artificial reefs, creating colorful and varied vertical mosaics that sustain much of the surrounding marine life.
The area around the jetty is closed to boats and divers, allowing the coral to thrive undisturbed.
But the planned maintenance work on the jetty would be fatal to animals – a species protected under Israeli law, with the Nature and Parks Authority in charge of its relocation.
After a short time, the red coral came out of the pile, and Zvuloni carefully placed it in a small pink plastic box he held in his free hand along with several others that had recently been removed.
Dive marine ecologists use chisels and hammers to remove corals from pier piers
The two divers swam to the surface of the water, where Avi, the captain of the small motorboat that had brought them to the place, bent over to retrieve the crate, placing it in a large blue vessel at the stern of the swaying ship.
The boat sailed to the nearby Marine Park of the Underwater Observatory, where the coral will be divided between the reef and a large aquarium.
Zvuloni estimates that they relocated 1,000 corals last year, not only from the pier and other structures, but also from pieces of garbage that were deep in the sea and were being removed.
Not all corals, however, allow themselves to be evacuated.
Zvuloni and Habary spent many long and precious underwater minutes trying to remove a dome-shaped stony yellow coral before throwing in the towel.
French marine biologist Guilhem Banc-Prandi (photo), who founded the WeSea NGO, is working on a PhD and studies the health of the region's corals
"We'll have to use a crowbar," Habary said sternly.
Each coral is a vital habitat for animals and plants.
"Corals in general are very important animals in species that project the environment," said Zvuloni. "It's much more than just the choir itself."
While relocation saves the choir from certain death, not all survive the change, which could be for the observatory and local educational facilities, or even for the aquarium of the Jerusalem zoo.
– & # 39; Very sensitive & # 39; –
Coral populations around the world are undergoing bleaching and dying due to global warming, but the population in the northern Red Sea has remained stable due to its unique heat resistance.
"Being stable these days is a privilege," said Zvuloni.
After bringing the coral to the surface, they are taken to the Marine Park Underwater Observatory where they are divided between the reef and a large aquarium
In another area of the northern Red Sea, experiments are underway to measure coral health in the region.
Although relatively resistant to heat, factors such as pollution caused by heavy metals can impair coral durability, said Guilhem Banc-Prandi, a 25-year-old French marine biologist and doctoral student at the Inter-University Institute of Marine Sciences in Eilat.
The proximity of the reefs of the Gulf of Eilat to the coast increases the threats they face, with "toxins and pollution" from human activity and industry entering the bay on a daily basis, according to Banc-Prandi.
To combat these threats in Eilat and elsewhere, Banc-Prandi founded WeSea, an NGO dedicated to raising awareness of the marine environment and educating the public.
"We firmly believe that outreach and education can really change the fate of the marine ecosystem," he said.
For Zvuloni, saving the coral is not only of ecological importance, but an "ethical duty".
With their rocky or vegetative appearances, most people who encounter coral do not even realize they are alive.
"It's a very sensitive animal," said Habary, "who needs to be preserved."
Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.[ad_2]