How Does Climate Change Affect Coral Reefs?

Working to nurture more resilient reefs in Belize

Off the island of Whipray Caye, Lisa Carne—a marine biologist who leads coral nursery projects in Belize—takes photographs of transplanted staghorn to monitor its growth.

Reef corals' intricate structures are the hubs of busy, biodiversity-rich ecosystems. But around the world, rising ocean temperatures and CO2 levels are driving away or killing the algae that keep corals healthy and colorful—and sometimes even turning entire reefs into bleached, ghostly graveyards. In Belize, WWF and local nonprofit Fragments of Hope are using coral nurseries to cultivate climate-resilient varieties—then planting those new varieties on struggling reefs.

At one of many coral nurseries run by Fragments of Hope, healthy elkhorn fragments are tied to underwater structures where they can grow until they're ready to be transplanted.

Once they're large enough, the corals are transplanted to marine protected areas—often onto dead coral structures—where they can start rebuilding reef ecosystems.

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