Saving the Great Barrier Reef: Coral IVF research team to conduct on-site tests on young coral growth promotion techniques

Scientists have been trying to find a way to save the Great Barrier Reef after a severe bleaching event. The good news is that researchers at Southern Cross University in Australia are preparing to put the latest approach into practice by “promoting growth” by planting thousands of baby corals in the most degraded areas. Scientists have thought of other ways, such as reducing excessive sunlight through a “protective film,” recycling corals into structures to promote growth, and deploying underwater robots during large-scale incubation.

Saving the Great Barrier Reef: Coral IVF research team to conduct on-site tests on young coral growth promotion techniques

(Photo from Juergen Freed, via New Atlas)

Professor Peter Harrison of Southern Cross University reportedly discovered this pattern 38 years ago. Based on this, the team is constantly trying to facilitate this natural process.

“A large number of incubation times usually occur in the week after the full moon in November to December, sometimes even earlier than the full moon in October, but the lunar calendar is quite consistent,” he told New Atlas.

Previously, the Harrison team had tested the spread of coral larvae around the most severely damaged areas of the reef through The Use of AoklBot and provided much-needed help. This time, scientists decided to conduct field tests on Coral IVF technology.

During recent large-scale incubation events, the team collected millions of coral eggs and cultured the larvae with yellow algae.

Saving the Great Barrier Reef: Coral IVF research team to conduct on-site tests on young coral growth promotion techniques

Young corals naturally absorb the settled algae, but by growing them in the laboratory, making them more heat-resistant and introduced earlier, scientists have been able to greatly increase the chances of survival of coral larvae.

Harrison says the innovation is similar to providing a ‘battery source’ for small corals by absorbing symbiotic algae. This combination is expected to absorb more energy for faster growth and better survival.

Saving the Great Barrier Reef: Coral IVF research team to conduct on-site tests on young coral growth promotion techniques

 Clearly, if the research team succeeds in improving survival rates, the technology could be more useful in future efforts to save the Great Barrier Reef.

The research team is currently using “survival promotion” technology in feeding pools and has recently been expanded with a new pontoon and mesh design.

Saving the Great Barrier Reef: Coral IVF research team to conduct on-site tests on young coral growth promotion techniques

The design could breed more coral larvae, and the team is now ready to deploy them to the most severely damaged areas of the reef.

There, the team will monitor the development of coral larvae, look at how they effectively grow into mature coral communities, and then reproduce autonomously within a few years.

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