Coral researchers are working night and day on the Great Barrier Reef to complete a radically new approach to mass coral re-seeding, rearing millions of hardy coral babies following the reef’s famous mass coral spawning event.
The ‘Coral IVF’ team led by Southern Cross University’s Professor Peter Harrison, with researchers Katie Chartrand (James Cook University) and Associate Professor David Suggett (University of Technology Sydney), captured millions of coral sperm and eggs during the ‘synchronised sex’ event and have successfully reared and ‘turbo charged’ the coral larvae with algae symbionts, ready to replenish heavily-degraded sections of reef.
Professor Harrison said the Larval Restoration Team had worked tirelessly at Reef Magic’s Marine World pontoon off Cairns since the mass spawning ‘underwater snowstorm’ began the night of November 17, following the November full moon. He says the team’s nocturnal project is paying off, now with millions of healthy coral larvae swimming around in six floating rearer pools ready to be dispersed and grow into new coral communities.
For the first time the team is trialling the newly designed ‘coral-nursery’ rearer pools, turbo-charging the baby coral’s chance of survival through co-culturing with algae, and tracking their progress using new ultra-sensitive optical sensors in real-time.
“We are using my newly-designed spawn catchers and nursery pool nets which have enabled us to catch more of the coral spawn slick and rear millions more larvae than ever before – and the results are looking very promising,” said Professor Harrison, who first discovered the mass coral spawning phenomenon with colleagues on the Great Barrier Reef 38 years ago.
This time, one of the ground-breaking advances from the team including Southern Cross Uni PhD researcher Nadine Boulotte is co-culturing the coral larvae with their algal partners (microscopic zooxanthellae) to turbo-charge their chance of survival, before being transplanted back onto the Great Barrier Reef.
“This innovative technique is like giving the baby corals a ‘battery pack’ by allowing the coral larvae to take up symbiotic algae, giving them the potential to acquire more energy, and therefore grow faster and survive better. If we succeed in increasing their survival rate it can make a big difference in being able to scale up future restoration processes,” Professor Harrison said.
Researcher Nadine Boulotte said “I’m excited to see the results from my laboratory experiments being trialled on the reef for the first time.”
JCU Senior Researcher Officer Katie Chartrand has been carefully growing the algal cultures in the lead up to the project and says the coral larvae are able to acquire symbiotic microalgae much earlier than they would in the wild.
“We have grown more than 10 billion cells of a more thermally-tolerant species of algae for our developing larvae to take up rather than the baby coral securing this symbiont well after settling. The next step will be to monitor how these energy-boosted larvae survive and grow in order to test if this technique improves coral recovery out on the reef,” Ms Chartrand said.
“Another critical component for our project to succeed is the partnerships with reef tour operators Aroona Boat Charters and Reef Magic, who have been providing key support for the research on Moore Reef.”
UTS Associate Professor David Suggett performed the initial algal culture process, and in another exciting first for the project team, was able to track the uptake of these algae symbionts by the coral larvae in near real time using new optical sensors.
“This is a world first – our new sensors are so sensitive they are able track uptake and photosynthetic activity as the algae initiate symbiosis with the larvae. These algae give the larvae a metabolic boost that normally they would not receive until metamorphosing on the reef into baby corals,” Associate Professor Suggett said.
Andy Ridley, CEO of conservation organisation Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef, said partnering with experienced Cairns tourism operators including Aroona Boat Charters and Reef Magic, was not only crucial to the project’s success, but a drawcard for reef tourists who see the project first-hand.
This project is a collaboration between the University researchers and key industry partners including Aroona Boat Charters and Reef Magic, and is funded by the Queensland and Australian Governments Coral Abundance Challenge.
The ‘conception’ of Coral IVF
It was when Professor Peter Harrison and colleagues first discovered mass coral spawning on the Great Barrier Reef 38 years ago that he first conceived the idea of using ‘Coral IVF’ to re-establish healthy breeding coral communities on damaged reefs devastated by coral bleaching.
The award-winning discovery of mass coral spawning radically changed scientific views about how corals on the Great Barrier Reef and around the world reproduce. The settling of coral larvae onto the reef is essential for restoring the next generation of coral communities.
Professor Harrison has been successfully trialling his unique restoration process at ever-increasing scales in the Philippines and on the Great Barrier Reef for the past seven years. He and his team capture spawn from corals that have survived bleaching devastation and keep them in ‘nursery enclosures’ so they don’t float away before they are capable of settling on the reef. The team then continues to monitor the reefs during subsequent months to track how well the coral babies survive and grow into new colonies that can become sexually mature and begin reproducing within three years.
While Professor Harrison’s Coral IVF process is a blueprint that could be scaled globally to help restore damaged and dying reefs, the team cautions that restoration alone cannot save these beautiful complex ecosystems that require urgent action on climate change to ensure their survival.
The Latest Google Headlines on:
Coral reef restoration
The Latest Bing News on:
Coral reef restoration
- Is it wrong to be hopeful about climate change?on January 9, 2020 at 4:36 pm
But if you’re looking for hope, there might be a space in constructing something together – in responsive hope. No single coral restoration programme will heal the wounds inflicted on reefs around the ...
- Sun Coaston January 8, 2020 at 2:30 pm
The Sun Coast team defends the fragile coral reefs and vital fisheries at Biscayne National Park ... Read more about $60 Million Transportation Grant for Tamiami Trail to Advance Everglades ...
- Malaysia: Luxury Beach and Rainforest Resorts for Your Next Holidayon January 7, 2020 at 4:10 pm
Gaya Island Resort has several eco-friendly initiatives in place that range from conservation through education to rescue programmes such as turtle rescue, coral reef restoration, conservation through ...
- Scientists in Florida Keys spending $100 million to stop coral reef deathson January 7, 2020 at 7:11 am
There's lots of different blues and yellows and greens … the Keys specifically, our reefs have experienced a decline in coral cover starting as early as the 1970s, 1980s, and coral cover used to be ...
- FWC: Gov. DeSantis’ leadership made for a productive and exciting year for conservationon January 5, 2020 at 1:07 pm
Ron DeSantis’ agenda since he took office. During his first full year, he made strides in the removal of invasive Burmese pythons and other nonnative species, Everglades restoration, coral reef rescue ...
- UF Researchers Team Up with Florida Aquarium for NOAA Project, Part of Coral Reef Restoration Initiativeon December 27, 2019 at 10:56 pm
a multi-partner coral reef restoration initiative by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Aaron Pilnick, a Ph.D. student in the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences ...
- Canon Participates in the University of Miami’s Coral Reef Restoration Projecton December 20, 2019 at 3:04 am
Melville, N.Y. – Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, and its wholly owned subsidiary, Canon Solutions America, Inc., announce Canon Solutions America’s participation in a Coral ...
- Canon Participates in the University of Miami's Coral Reef Restoration Projecton December 19, 2019 at 4:24 pm
Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, and its wholly owned subsidiary, Canon Solutions America, Inc., announce Canon Solutions America's participation in a Coral Reef Restoration ...
- Here’s what it takes to save coral reefs in Florida and beyondon December 19, 2019 at 8:49 am
But scientists and environmentalists aren’t going to let the coral die without a fight. The Great Barrier Reef. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.) One of the largest and most ambitious reef restoration ...
- A federal plan to save coral reefson December 17, 2019 at 9:45 am
which means that the investment in coral reef restoration would also be an economic driver of tourism. “There’s a lot of economic value on our coral reefs, and I understand it’s scary to admit how bad ...
The Latest Google Headlines on:
The Latest Bing News on:
- 'Coral IVF' could restore damaged parts of Great Barrier Reefon December 14, 2019 at 9:43 pm
China's construction of an airstrip in Cambodia is raising alarms about its military ambitions.
- Intertidal: You don’t have to hit the tropics to enjoy coralson December 12, 2019 at 8:05 am
Some neat research has uncovered new methods of regenerating reefs in areas that have been bleached. Essentially this is coral IVF. Coral reproduce by releasing sperm and eggs into the water. Some of ...
- Scientists reveal next phase of ‘Coral IVF’ reef restoration projecton November 27, 2019 at 9:00 pm
Scientists involved with the “Coral IVF” project, collecting and then distributing live coral larvae on damaged parts of the Reef, have revealed the next phase of their reef restoration strategy.
- Robots Deliver Coral Larvae to Damaged Great Barrier Reefon November 27, 2019 at 3:24 pm
Harrison pioneered the coral larval restoration technique (known as coral IVF) which has settled millions of coral babies back onto the reef this week, with coral polyps already starting to grow. “The ...
- Floating nurseries and robotic fleet deliver coral babies to damaged parts of Great Barrier Reefon November 27, 2019 at 7:33 am
Professor Harrison pioneered the coral larval restoration technique (known as coral IVF), and says this week the team has settled millions of coral babies back onto the reef, with coral polyps already ...
- 'Coral IVF' could restore damaged parts of Great Barrier Reefon November 26, 2019 at 11:39 pm
Scientists from Australia's Southern Cross University have come up with a technique called "Coral IVF" to restore coral in damaged parts of the Great Barrier Reef. Meet the oldest woman in America.
- Scientists use ‘coral IVF’ to save damaged parts of Great Barrier Reefon November 26, 2019 at 4:00 pm
In the process dubbed “Coral IVF”, experts used large inflatable “coral nurseries” to grow coral larvae during the annual spawning event two weeks ago. Deploying an underwater robot, millions of baby ...
- Florida couple gives birth to boy thanks to ‘Win a Baby’ IVF conteston November 23, 2019 at 4:47 am
The winners of the contest in 2017 were Krista and Anthony Rivera of Cape Coral. The couple welcomed their son ... insurance coverage and payment” and remove some of the stigma. IVF costs, on average, ...
- Florida couple gives birth to boy thanks to radio station's 'Win a Baby' conteston November 19, 2019 at 3:42 am
The winners of the contest in 2017 were Krista and Anthony Rivera of Cape Coral. The couple welcomed their son ... insurance coverage and payment" and remove some of the stigma. IVF costs, on average, ...
- IVF on Great Barrier Reef helps researchers buy time before further coral declineon November 18, 2019 at 10:39 am
"The reason we need to put algae into these corals is that's what naturally occurs on the reef within the first week of settlement," project leader and coral IVF pioneer Professor Peter Harrison said.