Coral reefs are important to the planet, but their numbers are declining.
BUFFALO, NY — The oceans are a vast and mysterious environment. Although they cover 70% of the planet, man has only explored about 5%.
Angela Martinez Quintana, who obtained her doctorate. at UB, studies ocean habitats in depth. His research focuses on coral reefs, their impact on the environment and their restoration.
“I work mostly with baby corals. And I’m interested in understanding what environmental conditions on the reef they actually like to grow and survive on the reef.”
She has spent countless hours observing reefs in the Caribbean, and she takes this research from the sea to the lab through the use of 3D digital modeling.
“Now I can go out to the reef and dive for maybe an hour or two, and take pictures of an area of the reef, and then I can come into my lab and work on my computer in those pictures to create a model 3D and it allows me to study the structure in different layers.”
Coral may look like a plant, but it is classified as an animal, related to jellyfish and anemones. Reefs are made up of coral communities, and although they occupy less than 1% of the ocean, their importance is as vast as the sea itself. They are home to 25% of all marine life and also help fight climate change.
“They’re also able to collect CO2 from the atmosphere like trees. So they’re actually able to regulate temperature as well. So if we lose them, we actually lose them, we lose a carbon sink point, which will also have an effect on global warming”, explains Quintana.
Corals can live for thousands of years, but their populations are in serious decline, threatened in part by human influence. Research like this will help secure their future.
“We really want to maintain a resource that actually provides us with resources to survive,” Quintana says. “So ultimately we live on this planet, and if we destroy the resources that we live on, it will directly affect us.”