Coral reefs, home to at least 25 percent of marine species, rely on a fragile balance of conditions for life. But those conditions are changing. Tropical oceans have warmed 0.5 degrees Celsius over the past century, resulting in widespread coral bleaching and outbreaks of coral diseases.
But there is some good news. Recent studies suggest some coral reefs may be able to adapt to warmer oceans, and today’s film, “Robot Tide Pools” focuses on some particularly resilient “supercorals” surrounding Ofu Island in American Samoa.
A team led by Stanford’s Steve Palumbi set out to study these corals, which regularly withstand midday summer temperatures of 33 degrees Celsius or higher. The team brought along specially designed prototype instruments—robot tide pools—that help them identify which corals have the right stuff to handle increasing ocean temperatures. “Robot Tide Pools” filmmaker Dan Griffin likens each one to a “personal picnic cooler” and says the tool designed by the Palumbi Lab at Stanford could very well be the tool needed to find the world’s toughest corals.
Check out more of Dan Griffin and Steve Palumbi’s films on the microdocs website.