Why We Prize Corals

Jul 24 2019

Anupa Asokan

Coral reefs are the planet’s most diverse and complex ecosystems. While they are only 0.1 percent of the ocean, they are home to 25 percent of all marine life and support the livelihoods of 500 million people around the world. Providing food, recreation, coastal protection and cultural value, coral reefs contribute nearly $10 trillion in services each year. But, this vital ecosystem is in a global crisis. We’ve already lost half of the world’s coral reefs and by the year 2030, 90 percent or more could be gone.

Here at XPRIZE, the Ocean Initiative team is working hard to actively spread awareness and fundraise for coral restoration and protection projects to make sure future generations can enjoy coral reefs and all the benefits they provide to humanity. From impact campaigns with the Ocean Foundation, the U.S. Department of State and others, to student outreach programs, to advocacy and thought leadership on Capitol Hill, the health of the ocean and corals is a main priority for XPRIZE.

So we asked you, what are your most pressing questions about coral reefs, and we heard you loud and clear. 

1. How can we ensure their repletion sustainability?

Answer:  How about a Coral Restoration XPRIZE?! We should also take steps to reduce our carbon emissions, help reduce local sources of pollution on reefs and unsustainable fishing practices (like dynamite fishing), and support coral restoration projects and education programs.

2. Point to a resource that would help locals restore corals in their own area.

Answer:  For those of you working in the field, we recommend checking out the Reef Resilience Network, a program run by our friends at The Nature Conservancy. If you’re not in the field, but equally passionate about protecting our oceans, think about organizing a beach or river cleanup, or help educate your friends and community about some of the issues facing the ocean and coral reefs.

3. Why don’t corals evolve as they are the oldest living form why don’t they manage to live in hot temp?

Answer: The current rate of climate change is much much faster than the millennia corals have had to grow and evolve. The majority of corals are also slow growing—some kinds only grow less than half a centimeter per year. There are some corals that have shown they do better in hotter temperatures than others and we can help the process along by studying these species and focusing coral restoration efforts with these more resilient corals. 

4. Can we use the kinetic energy generated by ocean waves?

Answer: The short answer is YES! But designing and putting technology in the ocean has a lot of real-world challenges. The U.S. Department of Energy actually ran a prize focused on this exact project, called the Wave Energy Prize. A great example of how the prize model can incentivize breakthroughs and grow an industry. 

5. What can the everyday consumer do to help slow the rate of ocean and coral loss?

Answer: Try to reduce your carbon footprint, even in ways that may seem small, but have a large overall impact. Here are some of our recommendations:

  • “Meatless Mondays”
  • Bike or walk to work once a week, or more.
  • Eat sustainable seafood. Use Seafood Watch from the Monterey Bay Aquarium as a great resource to determine the best seafood choices
  • Limit your plastic use. Bring your own reusable items like water bottles, coffee cups, bags, and bring your own utensils or take-out containers if you’re eating out or travelling. 

6. What is the main goal of the Ocean Initiative at XPRIZE? 

Answer: A healthy, valued and understood ocean.

Stay tuned as we announce more updates about the Ocean Initiative and coral restoration work here at XPRIZE!


Anupa Asokan