Saving the Great Barrier Reef

By | Category: Travel destinations
Great Barrier Reef

the Great Barrier Reef

One of the attractions of Australia is the Great Barrier Reef

Millions travel to see it each year; hundreds of thousands dive to see the underwater colours and marine life. For the local economy particularly around Cairns in north Queensland and the Whitsunday islands is a significant money earner. And, of course, as the largest living organism in the world it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

But most readers will be aware that it faces threats. The Crown of Thorns Starfish feeds on the coral polyps, parts are dying due to a variety of reasons not the least of way is due to man-made activity. Protecting the reef is a necessity and a possible solution to its decline may have been found.

For the last year, Professor peter Harrison has been operating a fertility treatment. Last year, he and his team collected millions of microscopic sperm and eggs from the annual coral spawning event and placed them into tanks for fertilisation. After “incubation” the coral larvae were then returned to the reef. This year, the team has done the same but with one addition based on the knowledge gained last year. “Tents” have been placed over the reef to stop the larvae floating to the surface which, he says, assists the larvae to attach themselves to the reef and colonise it.

Professor Harrison says ,  “From our previous studies, we know that microscopic larvae, once settled, can grow into dinner plate size corals in just three years and become sexually reproductive. “The success of this project… could increase the scale of coral restoration on the Great Barrier Reef in future…”

Initial results suggest that this concept is working meaning not only that it might be able to be used at other threatened reefs around the world (or even to build protected reefs around islands threatened with flooding) but that visitors to Queensland will be able to enjoy the reef for years to come.

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