Coral Transplant Surgery Prescribed for Japan

The New York Times

Published: April 14, 2009

SEKISEI LAGOON, Japan — Beneath the waves of this sapphire-blue corner of the East China Sea, a team of divers was busily at work.

Hovering along the steep, bony face of a dying coral reef, some divers bored holes into the hard surface with compressed-air drills that released plumes of glittering bubbles. Others followed, gently inserting small ceramic discs into the fresh openings.

Each disc carried a tiny sliver of hope for the reef, in the shape of fingertip-size sprigs of brightly colored, fledgling coral.

This undersea work site may look like a scene from a Jules Verne novel, but it is part of a government-led effort to save Japan’s largest coral reef, near the southern end of the Okinawa chain of islands. True to form in Japan, the project involves new technology, painstaking attention to detail and a generous dose of taxpayer money.

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