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
- WTW expands program insuring endangered coral reefon July 6, 2022 at 12:49 am
Using a WTW-designed model that captures the relationship between the levels of hurricane intensity and reef damage at each site, the program uses parametric hurricane insurance to fund prompt, ...
- ZSI envisages restoration of coral reefson June 29, 2022 at 7:27 am
ZSI is not only monitoring these but has successfully trans-located corals from the Gulf of Mannar and has been able to relocate them to the Gulf of Kutch.
- Synchronized spawning creates new life for coral reefson June 28, 2022 at 9:00 pm
Divers interested in viewing the underwater phenomenon of coral spawning can join Florida Keys dive operators during select coral spawning charters — twilight trips to shallow reefs on or around ...
- To combat coral bleaching, Kenya turns to reef nurserieson June 27, 2022 at 3:02 am
We use coral fragments collected from wild populations to establish the nurseries,” said diver Yatin Patel, before slipping into the turquoise waters. “After growing, they’re taken to the coral garden ...
- Study shows mangrove and reef restoration yield positive returns on investment for flood protectionon June 17, 2022 at 11:19 am
A new analysis demonstrates that restoration of mangroves and coral reefs can be a cost-effective solution for coastal flood reduction in more than 20 countries across the Caribbean. The study ...
- As staghorn coral declines along Florida coast, planting project tests restoration planon June 17, 2022 at 11:19 am
Just 150 fragments of staghorn coral planted off Florida's shore might give new hope to the state's endangered reefs. A boat carrying those fragments set off Tuesday afternoon in Jupiter, marking ...
- Mangrove and reef restoration yield positive returns on investment for flood protection, study showson June 17, 2022 at 10:29 am
Restoration of mangroves and coral reefs can be a cost-effective solution for coastal flood reduction in more than 20 countries across the Caribbean. Researchers used methods from the risk and ...
- Mangrove and coral reef restoration could pay for itself, new research indicateson June 7, 2022 at 10:14 pm
FRESH research done by economists attached to the World Bank and a number of universities in the Americas have identified 20 Caribbean countries in which coral reef and mangrove restoration could ...
The Latest Google Headlines on:
The Latest Bing News on:
- After conceiving my kids through IVF, I donated my 7 remaining embryos. I can't believe how fulfilling it feels.on June 29, 2022 at 10:50 am
Laly Havern conceived a son and a daughter through IVF. She said she knew her family was complete with two kids, so she donated seven embryos. This is Havern's story, as told to Kelly Burch.
- Babies born through IVF end up being smarter teenagers... but are more prone to depression and anxiety, study findson June 27, 2022 at 5:07 pm
Babies born through IVF are smarter but more prone to mental health problems than naturally conceived children, research suggests. Experts at the University of Helsinki followed 280,000 youngsters ...
- To combat coral bleaching, Kenya turns to reef nurserieson June 27, 2022 at 1:48 am
Minutes away from the Kenyan mainland, the densely forested island of Wasini is one of several starting lines for coral reef restoration efforts in the western Indian Ocean. On a rare calm day ...
- Cape Coral traffic stop finds driver with fentanyl packs, substance used as mix-inon June 14, 2022 at 8:38 pm
A traffic stop along Del Prado Boulevard South led Cape Coral police to a number of packs of fentanyl and drug-related charges against the driver. Police stopped Vanessa Rovira, 36, Saturday for ...
- Great Barrier Reef headed for ‘massive death’on June 11, 2022 at 6:12 pm
John "Charlie" Veron -- widely known as "The Godfather of Coral" -- is a renowned reef expert who has personally discovered nearly a quarter of the world's coral species and has spent the past 45 ...
- Psychoanalytic Therapists in Coral Way, Miami, FLon June 11, 2022 at 10:21 am
I offer psychological evaluations (IVF treatment, LGBQT gender confirming ... If you're looking for psychoanalysis in Coral Way, Miami or for Coral Way, Miami psychoanalysis these professionals ...
- Special Projects designs Aura app to help guide people through IVFon June 10, 2022 at 8:24 am
Special Projects, which specialises in user centred design, conducted interviews with IVF patients in attempt to understand their ... colours in the UI to keep it minimal – dark blue and coral – and ...
- Overlooked option can help couples with infertilityon June 8, 2022 at 8:42 am
CORAL GABLES, Fla ... “A lot of patients who go through this treatment, fertility treatment, IVF, know how hard it is and how much work it is and how infertility can be very sad at times ...
- Probiotics could be used to help in Great Barrier Reef coral transplantson June 2, 2022 at 3:04 pm
Researchers are using probiotics on coral to counter disease Corals grown in aquaculture have high mortality rates Other scientists say successful coral transplants will only buy time and that ...
- Hope for the Reef: See it as you’ve never seen it beforeon October 14, 2020 at 9:31 am
Coral only spawns once a year Dubbed “Coral IVF”, this fragile coral offspring is part of the most ambitious coral regeneration attempt ever undertaken to save the stressed and damaged coral ...