Monday, 13 November 2017

Coral spawning and the hope of resurrection

"It's like the coral is being blessed!" said my 8-year old, as we watched the latest episode of Blue Planet 2. Coral spawning. It happens once a year, when the moon is full in spring and when the coral is ready. It is synchronised across the reef, with all the coral spawning at once; and many of the other creatures that live on the reef spawn along with the coral.

That night, that holy night. Because I agree with my son - this is an act of blessing. It's a natural act, that happens annually. But it is an act of blessing and mystery, a gift from God. It has been laid into the coral's DNA to ensure new life and growth.

But there is more: it also ensures rebirth. The episode also talked movingly about the widespread bleaching of coral due to global rises in sea temperature (due to human-made climate change), leading to the coral being unable to grow. Many coral reefs around the world are suffering hugely - 2/3 of the Great Barrier Reef has become bleached - and it's possible there may not be any coral reefs by the end of the century.

But there is hope - slim but real. The spawning of the coral gives these complex ecosystems the chance to be renewed each year, creating a new community in a different place as the spawn sails through the ocean. And maybe, just maybe, coral reefs can be renewed and reborn in different places and in ways that can withstand the worst that humans are throwing at them. Because hope springs eternal, and resurrection happens everywhere. One day a year in spring can be Easter for the coral reefs - and hope is always and everywhere for the rest of the world also.

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