With coral populations dying off at alarming rates, one scientist has figured out a way to accelerate their growth, potentially giving them a new lease on life.

Marine biologist Dr. Dave Vaughn, who is the coral restoration program manager at the Mote Tropical Research Center in the Florida Keys, said:

“My Eureka moment — or Eureka mistake — was when I broke a coral into tiny pieces. I thought it was going to die and be very stressed. Instead it grew like the dickens.”

Vaughn’s technique is called “micro fragmenting,” and can take a process that lasts from 25 to 75 years for a coral to hit sexual maturity and shrink that time line down to three years.

“It was after that accident that I knew we could restore reefs. . . . If we can understand what turns on the fast growth of tissue in a coral, . . . we might be able to have remedies for tumors or cancer.”

Check out the video below.

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