Researchers found that corals in the shade of mangrove trees were thriving, since they were protected from overheating. Image Credit: Unsplash/Timothy K

Coral reefs are in danger, and most of us are aware of that fact. But did you know that one of the best strategies to save coral reefs, is to first save the mangroves?

Click start to play today’s Word Search, where you can find the word “mangrove”.

Coral reefs have been dying out around the world because of warming waters. Heat causes corals to release the photosynthetic algae that live within them and help feed them, in a process called bleaching. It’s fatal. According to a February 2015 report in the National Geographic, in the Caribbean, bleaching has caused more than 50 per cent of coral reefs in the area to die.

But mangroves could hold the key to saving reefs around the world. Mangrove trees’ stilt-like roots are known to protect coastal lands from erosion, and to protect shores from the damage of tsunamis and hurricanes. And according to an August 2014 study in the online journal Biogeosciences, they may also save as a refuge for corals.

The study found that in the mangroves of US Virgin Islands, growing among the roots were more than 30 coral species, including four threatened species. The mangroves protected them from bleaching events that had devastated nearby reefs.

Researchers found that these particular corals were thriving, especially the corals that were in the shade of the mangrove trees, since they were protected from overheating. The corals were also more resistant to bleaching, suggesting that they had become accustomed to environmental fluctuation. Scientists are now hoping that such bleach-resistant corals could help recolonise dead reefs elsewhere.

It’s a hope many are holding out on. According to the National Geographic, by 2030, more than 90 per cent of the world’s coral reefs will be endangered by bleaching, and other threats, like tourism and acidity from carbon dioxide in the air. Researchers are looking for sanctuaries for corals to hide out in, like deeper reefs with cooler water. Such areas may soon become top conservation sites around the world.

Preserving mangroves is one of the strategies that will help corals survive. But the world has to pull together to save its mangroves as they, too, are under threat.

What do you think the future holds for mangroves and coral reefs? Play today’s Word Search and tell us at