Sweden’s last remaining coral reef is in decline, and scientists attribute it to sedimentation and trawl fishermen who drag their nets across the ocean’s bottom and break apart and kill corals. According to CBS News, Sweden’s Sacken Reef, which is home to a cold water coral called Lophelia pertusa has shrunk to about the size of an American football field and continues to shrink.
According to the report, Mikael Dahl, a marine biologist with Sweden’s University of Gothenberg has been working to restore the reef by introducing coral larvae that should help the reef to recover. Scientists initially hoped that larvae from Norwegian reefs would reach Sacken Reef, which is how reefs are replenished naturally, but because the reef is fairly isolated, only small amounts of Norwegian coral larvae are finding their way to Sacken Reef. When Dahl published a study in the journal Coral Reefs attesting to the fact that the reef is isolated, he began to seed the reef with Lophelia pertusa frags and larvae.
Dahl is hoping that the seeded larvae will grow and help to replenish the corals on Sacken Reef, which he estimates to be more than 6,000 years old based on his study. Dahl also hopes that the trawl fisherman will abide by the more than 10-year-old Swedish law banning trawling on the reef, because damage to the reef caused by trawlers has been observed several times since after the law was implemented.