The fight against coral bleaching: how one teenager’s dream grew into a global crusade

Titouan Bernicot founded Coral Gardeners with which he is combating the effects of climate change and pollution on coral reefs

Titouan Bernincot, the founder of Coral Gardeners, has embarked on an extraordinary journey to save corals threatened by climate change. His story begins in French Polynesia, where he spent the first two years of his life in a bungalow on a tiny atoll, surrounded by a breathtaking marine environment.

His family owned a pearl farm, but Titouan’s connection with the ocean and its marine life only grew stronger. The turning point came during his teenage years in Mo’orea, Tahiti, when, while surfing with friends, he noticed that the corals, once vibrant with colors, were bleaching.

This phenomenon, known as coral bleaching, is caused by rising water temperatures. This experience shook Titouan and propelled him to dedicate his life to saving coral ecosystems.

Corals are crucial with coral reefs absorbing carbon dioxide and transforming it into oxygen, earning them the nickname “the Amazon rainforests of the sea“. Losing them would pose a huge problem not only for marine life but for the planet in general. Moreover, they provide food for millions of people and protect against erosion from large waves.

Aiming to plant a million corals by 2025

At just 16 years old, thanks to a crowdfunding effort, Titouan founded Coral Gardeners, a non-profit organization committed to the cultivation and regeneration of corals. The project aims to counteract the effects of climate change and pollution on coral reefs, which represent the first ecosystem at risk of collapse due to rising water temperatures.

Coral Gardeners does not merely raise awareness about the importance of corals but actively engages in the cultivation of healthy and resilient corals. Titouan and his team employ innovative techniques, such as nursery cultivation and coral grafting, to strengthen and preserve coral habitats, using artificial intelligence and telematics tools to monitor coral growth.

The project has attracted the attention of major supporters who have decided to back Coral Gardeners. Titouan Bernincot, with his extraordinary commitment, has become a National Geographic Explorer and received accolades from the United Nations at the Young Activists Summit in Geneva.

To date, Coral Gardeners has repopulated 30,000 corals in various underwater nurseries scattered across French Polynesia, expanding to other countries like Thailand and Fiji. This global project leverages social media communication with ambassadors like Jason Momoa. And for the future, the goal is to plant a million corals by 2025, opening Coral Gardners branches around the world, in Indonesia, Rapa Nui, and even in the Mediterranean. To achieve this, they are involving surfers and local fishing communities, teaching them not to destroy the coral reefs.

Source: Coral Gardeners

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