Asia Minute: Innovative Help for Coral Reefs

Nov 28, 2018

Credit Wise Hok Wai Lum / Wikimedia Commons

There’s been a lot of focus on climate change this week. Part of that story involves coral reefs. And it’s not all bad news. There’s a project underway in Australia that could help restore reefs around the world.

The Great Barrier Reef is the site of a new experiment this week in regenerating coral. Researchers are collecting millions of coral eggs and sperm during the annual coral spawning now underway.

The plan is to develop tiny corals in protected floating booms for about a week, and then place them into the most damaged parts of the reef – so that the coral can re-grow where it’s been depleted.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports some are calling it “IVF for the Great Barrier Reef.” Similar to the process of in vitro fertilization, the idea is to encourage reproduction where it might not otherwise take place.

Some of the baby coral will head to laboratories for further testing. For example, to see which kind of algae encourage the fastest growth.

Credit Tchami / Flickr

Removing the early-stage life forms is a delicate process — using special equipment supplied by commercial maritime contracting companies. According to the website, researchers will be testing at least two types of pumps and two types of storage tanks to help in the process.

If the operation is successful, it will be replicated elsewhere in the world where coral reefs are under stress.