Biorock® corals bleach less, recover faster, and have higher survival after heat shock: Biorock ark electrotherapy to save coral reefs from global warming

Thomas J. Goreau, Global Coral Reef Alliance
Thomas Sarkisian, Biorock Thailand

Asia Pacific Coral Reef Symposium, June 2010, Phuket, Thailand

SUMMARY:
Corals receiving low power electrical trickle currents on Biorock® reefs grow 2-6 times faster than genetically and environmental identical controls (depending on species and conditions), had 16-50 times higher survival after severe bleaching events in the Maldives in 1998, and have quickly turned eroding beaches into growing ones. 2010 is expected to be the hottest year in history: by June 2010 mass coral bleaching affected most of the Indian Ocean and South East Asia, with bleaching expected to start later in the Caribbean and parts of the Pacific. Mild bleaching affected over 100 Biorock reefs in Indonesia in early 2010, and severe bleaching affected over a dozen Biorock reefs in Thailand in June and July. Bleaching affected nearly 100% of all reef corals at our sites in Ko Samui and Ko Tao, The Gulf of Thailand, and about half the reef corals had died by mid July, including almost all branching corals. Biorock reefs in both Thailand and Indonesia showed dramatic visual differences with surrounding reefs: 1) many coral species that were completely bleached on the reef were only partially bleached, and in some cases had fully normal pigmentation, on Biorock, 2) when temperatures eased slightly, Biorock corals regained normal colors much faster than surrounding reefs, 3) higher survival was seen on Biorock. The unique features of faster growth and greater resistance to high temperatures result from the beneficial growth, healing, and stress resistance effects of electrical fields, making Biorock Coral Arks the only option to maintain reefs alive if global temperatures continue to rise. Large-scale application of Biorock electrotherapy will be needed to preserve the marine biodiversity, fisheries, tourism, and shore protection ecological services of coral reefs before there is further warming.