Australian researchers found a new technique to repopulate the Great Coral Reef which could pave the way to a new era of coral reef recovery.
Lead scientist Peter Harrison noted that the experiment is the first successful attempt to restore the population of young larvae in the wild. The new technique was successfully tested around the Heron Islands, in Australia.
The research team praised the new method for offering coral help in conceiving and settling, which can be extremely hard in warming waters. Researchers want to retest the technique on the Great Barrier Reef, and if it successful, they envision a global expansion.
Scientists targeted especially severely damaged coral populations where larvae cannot replenish at the appropriate pace for a full restore. The latest experiments confirmed the success of a similar pilot study conducted in the Philippines, where the coral population was affected by blast fishing.
‘Promising’ Natural Method of Restoring Coral Population
- The new method requires to capture coral sperm and eggs during mass events and direct fertilization manually, rather than leaving the process to chance.
- When waves, winds, and currents are allowed to lead the coral fertilization process, very few larvae survive to reach maturity.
Researchers captured millions of young larvae and eggs and returned them to the reef with help from submerged mesh tents. The latest mass coral spawning happened in November 2016.
Study authors traveled to the Great Barrier Reef to test their technique. They were able to capture a vast number of coral sperm and eggs, which they used to grow larvae that were later delivered back to their home. Over a million larvae made it to the reef during the eight-month experiment.
About a year later, the research team noticed around 100 juvenile corals in the proximity of Heron Island. Prof. Harrison deemed the outcome “promising”.
Image Source: Publicdomainpictures.net