Our Changing Planet, 21 April 2024, BBC One, “Restoring Our Reefs”


In “Restoring Our Reefs,” the latest instalment of Our Changing Planet, Steve Backshall explores the innovative efforts to revive and protect the fragile coral reefs of the Maldives. Airing on BBC One on Sunday, 21 April 2024, at 6:00 pm, the episode highlights the urgent crisis facing coral reefs globally and the race against time to ensure their survival.

Coral reefs are currently at a critical juncture, with record sea temperatures and warming seas causing widespread coral bleaching. Without intervention, there is a risk of nearly all reefs dying off within the next two to three decades. The episode joins scientists who are pioneering groundbreaking techniques to aid the recovery and climate resilience of these vital ecosystems.

Steve Backshall collaborates with Professor Peter Harrison from Southern Cross University in Australia, who has developed a method called “coral IVF.” This innovative process involves collecting coral spawn and optimising fertilisation conditions, allowing the larvae to develop safely before being released onto degraded reefs. By enhancing reproduction rates, Professor Harrison’s technique offers a promising solution for reef restoration.

Additionally, Steve connects with Professor Steve Simpson from Bristol University, who made the remarkable discovery that coral larvae are attracted to the sound of healthy reefs. The vocalisations of fish trigger the larvae to settle and grow, providing a unique opportunity to guide them towards damaged reefs that need repopulation.

Back in the UK, Liz Bonnin visits The Coral Spawning Lab in London, where Dr Jamie Craggs and his team have successfully cultivated corals on a large scale by meticulously controlling light, water, and temperature conditions. Liz also meets with Tom Birbeck, a passionate diver who has founded a company dedicated to constructing new reefs from waste materials, providing a much-needed habitat for marine life.

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“Restoring Our Reefs” showcases the dedication and ingenuity of scientists and conservationists working tirelessly to protect our planet’s precious coral reefs. Through their efforts, there is hope that these vibrant ecosystems can be preserved for future generations.

Our Changing Planet: Restoring Our Reefs airs on BBC One on Sunday, 21 April 2024, at 6:00 pm, offering viewers an insightful look at the latest advancements in reef conservation and the ongoing battle to safeguard our planet’s biodiversity.

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Isabelle aka Izzy Jacobs is the UK previews specialist at memorabletv.com. Isabelle is particularly drawn to crime dramas, but she also has a not so secret love for all things reality TV. In addition to her work at memorabletv.com, Isabelle is also an avid traveler and a devoted foodie.