Coral reef cryopreservation project starts

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Coral reefs threatened by rising sea temperatures are set to be frozen in a last ditch effort to preserve them for the future.

Under a project proposed by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), thousands of coral samples will be frozen in liquid nitrogen and preserved within the world s first coral cryobank, which will be set up within the UK.

It is hoped that the preserved samples will form the basis of reintroduction programmes should global temperatures stabilise in the future.

The plan to cryopreserve samples of coral was unveiled as legislators meeting in Copenhagen to discuss coral reef decline recognised that even tough regulations on greenhouse gases may not be enough to save the worlds coral reefs.

Current predictions suggest that many corals reefs " including the Coral Triangle, a marine hotspot that hosts a wide diversity of corals " could be destroyed as a result of climate change by the end of this century.

While scientists fear it may not be possible to prevent the loss of corals due to climate change, we can definitely store the species and save them in that way, says Simon Harding, of the Zoological Society of London.

It's the last ditch effort to save biodiversity from the reefs which are extremely diverse systems, Harding told the BBC.

It would take other work to try and reconstruct the reef so that you can start the process of building up a reef again. That is something that needs to be looked at in detail.