Marhaver Lab/Creative Coral Science for Reef Recovery
Coral reefs cover less than one percent of Earth’s ocean floor yet serve as breeding grounds, refuges and feeding areas for as much as 25% of all sea life. With more than 7.5 billion people now occupying a planet that held fewer than 1 billion people just 200 years ago, coral reef ecosystems have endured an endless onslaught of risks brought on by destructive fishing methods, unsustainable tourism, coastal development, the global aquarium trade, and pollution. Today, existing threats to these “rainforests of the sea” are magnified by escalating dangers from global warming, rising sea levels, and ocean acidification.
Innovative solutions are critical to saving these endangered ecosystems. Based in Curacao, the Marhaver Lab fills an important niche by conducting creative coral science for coral reef conservation and restoration. The Lab’s main research focus is the reproduction and growth cycles of the Caribbean’s most fragile corals, and the development of new tools to help young corals survive. Since 2012, Dr. Marhaver has led research that produced novel breeding techniques for endangered coral species, novel 3D-printed surfaces to improve the settlement rates of larval corals, and novel bacterial treatments to enhance the survival of juvenile corals.
Optimize and develop these novel breeding and survival tools for as many as ten coral species, and then openly distribute these tools and methods to other coral restoration programs to spur broader adoption and further innovation.
Build on the promising scientific leads already produced in the laboratory to create and distribute a suite of effective, scalable tools for application in coral restoration projects, including:
- Developing a suite of coral probiotics
- Enhancing coral settlement surfaces
- Raising endangered coral species with success
- Demonstrating progress as it happens
Kristen Marhaver is a marine biologist who is pioneering new techniques to ensure that corals can survive. Her research has been featured in 300 national and international media outlets including NPR and BBC. Her honors include five fellowships and grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation, four awards for science communication and a TED Senior Fellowship.