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Our Changing Planet: Restoring Our Reefs | Preview (BBC One)

Globally, coral reefs are at crisis point – 2023 saw record sea temperatures and warming seas cause corals to bleach. Without action, nearly all reefs could die off in the next 20-30 years.

Our Changing Planet joins scientists in a race against time to help damaged reefs recover and survive climate change. Steve Backshall visits the Maldives to take part in a world-first collaboration.

Professor Peter Harrison from Southern Cross University in Australia devised “coral IVF” that helps corals reproduce more successfully. Peter’s technique involves collecting spawn and maximising fertilisation, then allowing the larvae to develop in the safety of a net before releasing them onto reefs that need restoration.

Now, Peter is working with Professor Steve Simpson from Bristol University who discovered that coral larvae move towards the sound of a healthy reef – fish vocalisations trigger them to sink to the bottom, settle and grow.

This remarkable innovation of combining Peter’s fertility treatment to create thousands of baby coral with Steve’s fish recordings to lure them to set up home on a damaged reef could be a game changer for reef restoration.

Back in the UK, Liz Bonnin visits The Coral Spawning Lab in London where Dr Jamie Craggs and his team have worked how to grow corals on an industrial scale by carefully controlling the light, water and temperature conditions.

Liz also joins keen diver, Tom Birbeck, who set up a company that builds new reefs from waste material and sees for herself how quickly wildlife takes up residence.

Our Changing Planet: Restoring Our Reefs airs Sunday 21st April on BBC One.


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