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Swedish biologists launch last-ditch effort to save coral reef

A specimen of Lophelia pertusa, a rare cold water coral species. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Transplanting corals from nearby Norwegian waters may help reef survive trawling, sedimentation threats

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Biologists have launched a restoration effort at Sweden’s only coral reef, which has been hammered by trawling and increased sedimentation from eutrophication. Continuous observations with remotely operated vehicles shows  the health of the reef slowly continues to decline.

To try and restore the the Säcken reef in the Koster Fjord, researchers with the University of Gothenburg are transplanting healthy corals from nearby reefs in Norway. The species of coral in question, Lophelia pertusa, requires an environment with a constant high level of salinity and low water temperatures all year round. In Sweden, these conditions only exist in the northern part of Bohuslän, where deep water from the Atlantic is led in via the Norwegian Trench.

“We’ve known since the mid-1920s that cold-water coral reefs exist here in Sweden,” said marine biologist and researcher Mikael Dahl. “At that time, corals could be found in three locations in the Koster Fjord. Today, only the Säcken reef remains, and it’s in poor condition.” Continue reading

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