Can Red Sea Corals Save the Worlds Reefs?

The Red Sea contains some of the world’s hottest and saltiest seawater.

Growing heat and acid tolerant corals in the Eritrean Red Sea might be the next big step to save hot water devastated reefs across the planet.


Hot water tolerant Red Sea corals could be the key to saving the worlds reefs. It will take an international effort to create the massive coral nurseries here in the Red Sea needed to begin to bring back to life the enormous areas of bleached dead coral reefs in places like The Great Barrier Reef in Australia, or from the coasts of Florida to the Indian Ocean, but it can be done.

Red Sea corals living in shallow waters here in the historic Zula Bay in Eritrea annually tolerate water temperatures of up to 37℃ (98°F) with only moderate bleaching, with the bleached portions able to recover once water temperatures go down. If all species present tolerate these high temperatures, there will be species that can tolerate even higher levels of temperature stress.

So the world needs to immediately start to identify and culture these species of corals so that in 4 to 5 years the beginnings of an effort to replant the worlds reefs with heat tolerant corals will begin to make a difference.

Corals can grow very rapidly in the right conditions. Coral regrowth on underwater lava fields on volcanic islands in Indonesia have seen a meter or more growth in 10 years. If heat tolerant corals are planted in the midst of the massive damage a decade should see serious growth and 30 or 40 years could see coral forests blooming again.

Many scientists are worried about the acidification of the oceans from the absorption of CO2. This acidification interferes with the absorption of calcium carbonate by shell fish and corals and weakens their shells or coraline structures and could see the virtual extinction of shell fish and reefs.

What may ameliorate this is a rapid rise in sea levels due to the large input of fresh water from melting Greenland and Antarctic ice caps, something like 7 meters or 23 feet sea level rise just from Greenland.

This large, sudden influx of fresh water, if combined with seeding and harvesting the shallower waters where coral reefs grow with certain kinds of algae (algae “eat” CO2) should reduce this acidification.

Developing acid tolerant corals is the next step and with the Red Sea being the saltiest, hottest water on the planet, acid resistant corals are highly likely to be present in our reefs.

Again, actually doing this, growing heat and acid tolerant corals here in the Red Sea in Eritrea will take a massive international effort if the world is going to start to meet the challenges of replanting hot water devastated coral reefs across the planet.

This isn’t the first time I have written about this, challenging the scientific community concerned with the calamity inflicting the planets coral reefs to come up with a plan to use our heat tolerant corals.

I can only hope that someone, somewhere out there will hear my plea and can get the worlds environmental and marine scientists serious attention about starting a coral reef replanting scheme using hot water tolerant Red Sea corals to save the worlds reefs.

Thomas C. Mountain is an independent journalist living and reporting from Eritrea since 2006. His speeches, interviews and articles can be seen on Facebook thomascmountain and thomascmountain @ gmail dot com

11 thoughts on “Can Red Sea Corals Save the Worlds Reefs?

  1. Yes, Mr. Mountain. It can indeed!

    I remember when a BBC-team was in Eritrea, with the son of the great oceanografer-Jacques Cousteau. He couldn’t believe his eyes! He was amazed by the beauty of Eritrean corals. He claims in that show, that Eritrea’s Red Sea, can indeed save the world’s coral-reefs. He said that Eritrea was sitting on a goldmine, at sea.

      1. What a moron
        Do you know the difference between watching a show and recording the show? I believe Ebay-Asmara was watching the show

        1. I was assuming it was also on YouTube, gosh how rude Eritreans are on the internet. It’s disgusting. I don’t seem to understand why you guys can’t talk with a guy that has a different opinion without calling him any names? Is it really that hard?

          1. You’re welcome!

            Excerpt from the article:

            “In the Red Sea, we were the first ever to film the fluorescence in Eritrean corals. The extraordinary phenomenon remains a mystery to scientists who still don’t know whether it is part of their survival strategy. And in these rarely dived waters, we found a species of coral which scientists previously didn’t know grows off Eritrea’s coast.”

  2. Soon after independence i had chance to go in the Dahlak Islands with friends and could witness when the a member of the crew “wedi denkel” used to fish a grouper “cernia” big almost a meter size, the amizing thing was that he fished it diving in a shallow cristal water like what Mr. Mountain is explaning. Eritrea is so beautiful and so its People.

  3. Eritrea is blessed with the best beautiful beaches from the Sudan border all the way to Djibouti With strategically located beautiful islands and abundant natural resources. You can’t really feel the blessings and the enormous untapped Eritrean redsea until you sail the sea and visit one of this magnificent pristine islands. Thanks God Eritrea is in a safe hand to exploit this abundant natural resources for the betterment of the people. The plan of development this islands are at hand and hopefully start soon. The sienic coastal highway from massawa to assab is breathtaking and will be a tourism industry attraction with its historic settlements on the way. I can’t imagine any country around the redsea that possess so much and accessible to all kinds of activities from fishing, diving, snorkeling, sailing, camping, desert safari, all year around water sports….all in a few hours.

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