A team of researchers might have found an effective way to save the Great Barrier Reef by breeding corals. Their aim is to establish a new coral population by reintroducing larvae directly in the reef. This project can have a huge significance for the environment, not only locally but on a global scale.
The scientists bred coral larvae in the laboratory
Peter Harrison is the main researcher in this project. He and his team came up with the idea of restoring the coral populations directly on site, by breeding juvenile corals in the Great Barrier Reef. He excited about the discovery, and thinks it can be easily applied anywhere in the world.
“[The project] has potential global significance — it shows we can start to restore and repair damaged coral populations where the natural supply of coral larvae has been compromised.”
The researchers went to the Heron Island in Australia during the coral spawning season, in November 2016, and collected both sperm and eggs. Then, they used it to grow over one million larvae. Afterwards, they selected a series of spots in the reef where the corals were already dead, and planted these larvae there.
This is one effective way to restore corals
Through this experiment, they hoped the larvae would develop into fully grown corals, even if they weren’t born in that environment. One year later, they returned to see if their attempt was successful. Around 100 larvae had already established, and were quickly turning into a small population. Even if it’s not a huge number, researchers still think this is a big achievement.
This is not the first time when this team tries the same method to restore coral populations. They applied the same project in the Philippines, where corals were destroyed by blast fishing. This process consisted of launching explosives to kill the fish, so that they would be easier to catch. There, the larvae turned into thriving populations only after three years.
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