Around half a billion people rely on coral-created and -maintained ecosystems globally. Enric Sala, a marine biologist, set out to accomplish a task that could have looked unachievable given that climate change threatens coral’s survival.
In essence, the objective was accomplished on an expedition Sala led with the National Geographic Society in 2009. Despite the reported conditions, the reef had somehow recovered and was once again vibrant and alive. Sala and his group rejoiced. Sala claims that there are two important reasons that contributed to this revival. The first is that, contrary to what was initially believed, half of the corals were still alive. The second was the Kiribati government’s choice to completely protect those waters in spite of the rise in temperatures. Sala noted that preventing overfishing permits the environment to become more resilient. Fish populations in highly protected areas increase to the point where they overflow the boundaries of their areas, replenishing nearby fishing grounds while also enhancing the ocean’s ability to absorb and store more carbon to slow climate change.