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Some time in early August an underwater volcano near the island of Tonga in the South Pacific erupted, pouring a massive amount of ash and molten rock into the ocean depths.  The cold ocean water cooled the debris into balls of pumice that floated to the surface, forming a raft of sulfurous grey rock the size of Manhattan.

This raft is drifting slowly toward the East coast of Australia, where it is expected to arrive in 7 to 12 months.  Marine biologists are optimistic that this pumice will collect and carry a varied menagerie of marine organisms across the ocean depths, depositing them near the badly depleted Great Barrier Reef.

They believe this injection of new life will help restore coral destroyed by global climate change. Not all share this optimism, with some scientists saying only a reversal of global climate change can save the Reef.  Others caution that non-native organisms transported aboard the pumice may do further damage to the Reef.

This astonishing natural phenomenon is yet another example of the resilience of the natural world, and of its ability to heal the damage wrought by our species.  More than that, it is an ominous reminder that the Earth does not need us, we need it.

 — post by Ellie Cabell