SYDNEY • Scientists launched the largest attempt to recover corals on the endangered Great Barrier Reef, collecting millions of creature eggs and sperm during their annual spawning.
Yesterday, researchers said they were planning to grow coral larvae from collected eggs and return them to reef areas that were badly affected by the coral's climate bleaching.
“This is the first time that the whole process of large-scale hopper cultivation and settlement will be carried out directly on the reefs on the Great Barrier Reef,” said Professor Peter Harrison from the University of Southern Cross, one of the project leaders.
“Our team will be restoring hundreds of square meters in order to reach square kilometers in the future, a scale that has not been undertaken before,” he said in a statement.
The project “Recovery of larvae” was timed to coincide with the annual appearance of corals on the reef, which began earlier this week and will last only from 48 to 72 hours.
Coral over a large reef area of 2,300 km was killed by rising sea temperatures associated with climate change, leaving skeletal remains in a process known as coral bleaching.
Professor Harrison warned that the transplant project would not be enough to save the reef. “Climate action is the only way to ensure that coral reefs can survive in the future,” he said.
Researchers, who also include experts from the James Cook University and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), said the novelty of their growing project was growing coral larvae along with microscopic algae. They live in symbiosis on the reef.
In Indonesia, more than a third of the country's coral reefs are in poor condition, scientists from the Institute of Indonesian Sciences say on Tuesday. The unstable condition of coral reefs was revealed after a survey of 1067 sites in an expanded country with more than 17,000 islands.