Around Vostok and other southern Line Islands, small reef fish are so abundant and reproduce so quickly that they support a thriving population of top predators. Here a gray reef shark swims over Montipora corals in a sea of fusilier damselfish and Bartlett’s anthias. Photo Credit: Enric Sala for National Geographic

Environment Oceans20. November 2022

Rebirth: Protected Coral Reefs Thrive Again

An incredible discovery reveals that the protected coral reefs in the southern Line Islands, 2,000 miles south of Hawaii, are thriving once again.

There is more biodiversity in coral reefs than in any other ocean ecosystem, providing food and protection to a myriad of species. The coral reefs in the southern Line Islands did just that until they were largely destroyed by rising global temperatures and the hottest El Niño in recorded history in 2015-16.

The islands are considered to be some of the most isolated – and wildest – places left on planet Earth. Researchers were recently able to visit the islands and discovered that the destroyed coral from El Niño had rebounded without any human intervention – making it the fastest coral recovery ever observed in history. Scientists contribute the recovery to the fact that there is no fishing on and around the protected islands and therefore the ecosystem was able to balance itself back out, as often happens in nature.

National Geographic

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