Can replanting of coral save the Great Barrier Reef? | MNN


Scientists have become expert creators of coral reefs breeding baby coral in the Great Barrier Reef, and the success of this project could be used to save the reefs around the world.

"This is the first project of this type in the Great Barrier Reef to successfully restore a population of juvenile corals from larvae that are established directly on the reef," said Peter Harrison, principal investigator at Southern Cross University. principal investigator of the project. declaration.

"The success of this new research not only applies to the Great Barrier Reef, but has potential global significance: it shows that we can begin to restore and repair damaged coral populations where the natural supply of coral larvae is has been compromised. "

Coral that grows through the sea

  Fishes swim through coral in the Great Barrier Reef
The coral of the Great Barrier Reef has struggled to survive the attacks of climate change and the bleaching of the corals. (Photo: William West / AFP / Getty Images)

Harrison and his team traveled to Australia's Heron Island in November 2016 during the coral spawning season. During that time, the researchers collected coral and sperm eggs and used them to grow and grow more than one million coral larvae. These larvae were planted in dead places along the reef of the island to see if they would be installed in their new homes. Harrison and the other scientists also covered the larvae with underwater mesh stores to help their growth.

Researchers returned this November to verify the status of their transplanted larvae, and discovered that more than 100 of the larvae had settled on the reef and were thriving.

Although that number may be small compared to the number the team re-planted on the reef, Harrison is excited about the possibilities.

"The results are very promising, and our work shows that the addition of higher densities of coral larvae leads to a greater number of successful coral recruits," Harrison said.

The project is based on the previous work that Harrison had done in the Philippines. The reefs have suffered the harmful effects of fishing with explosives, the practice of using explosives to stun or kill fish to facilitate harvesting. Harrison had carried out a similar restoration project that resulted in the growth of the larval coral to "adult colonies the size of a plate of food in three years" that could also reproduce on their own.

The process also provides an alternative to coral gardening, a process whereby healthy coral pieces are separated from their original locations and planted elsewhere or the cultivated and cultivated coral is moved back to laboratories reefs. The process has had some success in the Caribbean, but Harrison believes that the process "is expensive and often does not work very well."

A new hope for the Great Barrier Reef

Harrison directed the Heron Island project with funds from the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, and based on its success, the Australian government also intervened to help Harrison to expand the scope of reseeding the larvae so that it can reproduce on a much larger scale.

"With this new funding from the Australian government and the continued support of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, our research team used the technique again this month at Heron Island to collect and combine the spawn of the coral, which produces mbadive amounts of coral larvae to deliver new & # 39; coral babies on the reef, "said Harrison.

Australia has had problems in recent years to protect the Great Barrier Reef. The reef suffered years of whitening back to black in 2016 and 2017, with the reef described as in a "terminal stage" of its life as a result of whitening. The efforts outlined by the country's Reef 2050 plan, which include restricting port development and reducing agricultural runoff, have not been able to counteract the warmer temperatures than usual.

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