CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Dr. Keisha Bahr, an Associate Professor of Marine Biology at the University of Texas A&M - Corpus Christi, is leading a groundbreaking $2 million research initiative aimed at unraveling the mysteries of coral reefs.
Alongside a team of experts at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, they are delving deep into the study of these vital ocean ecosystems, with a mission to discover innovative ways to safeguard and preserve coral reefs.
The program is being funded by the NOAA Ocean Acidification Program on behalf of the National Oceanographic Partnership Program.
"No one else in the world is doing this type of project. And part of it is to really understand how we can change the chemistry of the water and boost corals and anything else that is calcifying," Dr. Bahr said.
Coral reefs are of incredibly important to our oceans and human functionality, as Dr. Bahr emphasized.
"So a lot of different species do depend on coral reefs, and without them, we would not have those species. But we also depend on them here, too. Even though they might be far away, a lot of the food, the medicines, and some of the services we get from corals themselves," she said.
Dr. Bahr reported that a pilot experiment has demonstrated that exposing coral to high alkaline water has resulted in some growth. This growth is beneficial for both the coral and the overall health of the ocean.
"So we are hypothesizing or we're believing that this could potentially be a win-win where we have enhanced alkalinity of the ocean to help absorb more of that carbon dioxide. But also, it might be benefiting corals and their ability to grow as well," Dr. Bahr said.
This pioneering research project offers a glimmer of hope for the future of coral reefs and their vital role in our ecosystems and communities.