Scientists to use 'Coral IVF' to restore Great Barrier Reef

Researchers from Australia's Southern Cross University are using a new technique called "Coral IVF" to create healthy coral babies which could eventually form new coral communities.


NSFW    QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA — 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.

Researchers captured millions of coral larvae during mass spawning events that occur following the full moon in the months of November and December. These larvae were then co-cultured with an algae called zooxanthellae, which was grown in a lab to have higher thermal tolerance.

According to a news release from the university, these corals are now living in 'coral nursery' rearer pools designed by the research team.

Scientists say the rearer pools allow the baby coral to be 'turbo-charged' due to the algae which increases their chance of survival. Optical sensors were added to track the progress of the baby coral.

The team now has six rearer pools housing millions of coral larvae. These corals will be dispersed onto damaged parts of the Great Barrier Reef to help form new coral communities.

Peter Harrison, a researcher from the university's Marine Ecology Research Center who was involved with the study, said the technique is similar to a "battery pack" which allows the coral to soak up the algae and potentially gain more energy to grow faster.

If the project is successful, "Coral IVF" could be used as a blueprint to help restore damaged or dying coral reefs around the world.
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