Solutionaries dives into Florida’s dying coral reefs, impacts of climate change

Several organizations across country working to repropagate coral reefs in labs

ORLANDO, Fla. – Climate change is an issue affecting everyone and just about everything.

It’s also been affecting coral reefs off Florida’s coast. Coral reefs are dying at an alarming rate, threatened by disease due to climate change.

“Those reefs basically act as barriers when hurricanes and strong storms hit the state of Florida. If they’re disintegrating and dying off and global warming is causing fiercer and more powerful hurricanes, we’re going to see more damage and the effects of that,” News 6 Investigator Erik Sandoval said.

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Sandoval worked with different programs and organizations, diving into the many solutions they are coming up with to help the coral reefs survive and thrive.

“What we found out was two archrivals, Disney and Sea World, are actually working together to take these little bits of coral and repropagated them in a laboratory in an unassuming place in the middle of Orlando in an effort to save the next generation,” Sandoval said.

This story is just one piece of our newest episode of Solutionaries. News 6 Investigator Louis Bolden hosts the episode with a focus on climate change.

“In our normal investigative stories that air on TV, we have about 2.5 minutes to dig and get results for people. With Solutionaries, we have all the time we want to tell the story, dig and find solutions to these issues affecting everybody,” Sandoval said.

The hour-long episode of Solutionaries touches on several topics surrounding climate change including urban heat and how cityscapes are affecting the balance of nature, solar-powered homes and how the system works and how groups are taking action to protect coral reefs.

“One of the most surprising things that came out of this: The Florida Coral Rescue Project is not just happening here in Florida, they’re taking propagated coral and sending them to aquariums all over the U.S.,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval also follows divers who are a part of the Florida Coral Rescue Project.

The project is a collaboration of agencies working with Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to not only stop coral from dying but to find ways to bring their population back.

Dozens of divers suited up and formed four teams to search for two large threats facing Florida’s coral. Bleaching is caused when the water temperature gets too warm. Researchers said it’s one of the results of climate change.

Stony Coral Tissue Disease is a water-borne bacteria, which can be deadly if it’s not treated. Researchers are still trying to determine where the bacteria come from.

So what can you learn from Solutionaries?

“Solutions aren’t always immediate. Solutions are in progress. Are there better solutions down the road? Absolutely. That’s the point of this program,” Sandoval said.

A big part of Solutionaries is you, our reader and viewer. We encourage our community members to take part in this project and future projects. Do you have ideas for solutions to our coral reef problem? Let us know in the comments below. If you have any ideas for future Solutionaries pieces, pass them on to us. We can work together to find solutions and create change.

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About the Author:

Crystal Moyer is a morning news anchor who joined the News 6 team in 2020.