Researchers at Monaco’s Scientific Centre have embarked on a marine experiment as part of the collaboration between the Research Unit on the Biology of Precious Corals and fashion house Chanel.

Supported by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, this programme aims to improve scientists’ understanding of red coral. Found in the Mediterranean Sea, jewellers have worked with this species, more formally known as Corallium rubrum, since the days of Antiquity. Nowadays, this marine organism is threatened by global warming and ocean acidification.

Scientists are trying to attract colonies of this precious species, used so much in the world of fashion, to Monaco’s shores. By submerging several coral caves into the water, they hope the organism will choose to lay its eggs on them, protecting them from the strong Mediterranean currents.

Helping this threatened species to reproduce

The hope is that by purposefully creating coral habitats, scientists will be able to study how this species reproduces. Covered with sliding panels, these artificial caves allow researchers to manipulate the arrangement of male and female colonies, thus facilitating reproduction.

During this experiment, scientists will analyse a variety of samples in order to work out the optimal conditions for the larvae’s development. Not only this, but they will also be able to monitor their growth more closely, since the species increases quite slowly in size, by between 2 to 8mm each year.

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