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Great Barrier Reef: Scientists set sail on ‘pivotal’ analysis mission to avoid wasting coral


November 15, 2017 06:06:48

A “crack team” of reef scientists — together with the person dubbed the “Godfather of Coral” — is starting a serious analysis mission that goals to avoid wasting the Great Barrier Reef from additional harm.

Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Legacy is taking eight groups of main scientists on a voyage from at the moment, mapping distant elements of the reef and testing the well being of corals.

Among different analysis tasks, they’re trying to find the “super corals” that survived the previous two years of devastating coral bleaching occasions.

It is hoped the corals that had been resilient sufficient to outlive could assist defend the reef from additional harm.

“This is a very important trip,” mentioned Charlie Veron, dubbed the “Godfather of Coral” after discovering 20 per cent of the world’s identified species.

“We’re truly seeing for ourselves what corals are susceptible to mass bleaching and what corals are surviving mass bleaching.

“So, as soon as we all know that, we’ll have the ability to make good choices about corals. It’s pivotal.”

Dr Veron has seen the Great Barrier Reef degrade over the previous many years.

“It’s gut wrenching … the predictions that scientists made well over a decade ago have all turned out to be spot on,” he mentioned.

“So that’s a horrible thing for us, because we wished we were wrong — but so far, we haven’t been.”

Two consecutive years of unusually heat climate have seen giant elements of the reef devastated by mass coral bleaching.

Research voyage ‘unprecedented’

GBR Legacy has funded the analysis mission with assist from a collective of tourism operators primarily based across the Great Barrier Reef — and environmentalist rock band Midnight Oil.

Today, the ship, MY Flying Fish, will journey from Port Douglas, north of Cairns, to Horn Island within the Torres Strait, the place it is because of arrive on the November 27, earlier than returning by December 7.

At occasions, the ship shall be so far as 200 kilometres off shore, charting the outermost reaches of the world’s largest coral reef.

GBR Legacy’s director of science Dean Miller mentioned the analysis voyage was unprecedented.

“We will be the first team to go up there and do a really detailed assessment since 2014, so pre those two bleaching events,” Dr Miller mentioned.

He mentioned the work would contain the most recent expertise accessible, together with drones and remote-controlled submarines.

“We’ve assembled an absolute crack team of scientists and researchers from all over Australia, so they can work on the same reef on the same day and answer their little part of the question,” Dr Miller mentioned.

“And that is completely unique in the way that research is done, so the level of collaboration going on between the research teams from all over Australia and even around the world is phenomenal.”

Marine biologist Taylor Simpkins is working with the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences, which is becoming a member of the voyage to check the algae which lives in corals and provides them their color.

“This is what gives them most of their energy [and] a lot of their food through photosynthesis,” Ms Simpkins mentioned.

“This algae can also end up poisoning the coral and causing it to bleach when the water temperature is really high so we want to look at that algae.”

Fears of one other bleaching occasion develop

The worry is that this summer season might see the third bleaching occasion in a row.

“There is a prediction for this year to be another bleaching event … which is a real worry and that’s a huge stress on the system,” Dr Miller mentioned.

GBR Legacy director John Rumney mentioned the reef was price tens of billions of to the Australian financial system.

As a former Great Barrier Reef tour operator, he mentioned the previous two years of bleaching occasions put him and others into despair — however there have been indicators of hope.

“What we’re trying to do is preserve it so that it is as good as it can be into the future,” Mr Rumney mentioned.

The analysis journey additionally occurs to coincide with the Queensland state election, and Dr Veron has a message for voters.

“I hope Queenslanders wake up to the fact the Great Barrier Reef is Queensland’s greatest — that’s Australia’s greatest — national asset,” he mentioned.

“It’s worth $7 billion a year and we are not doing enough to ensure its future.”














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