May 16, 2021

Regenerate the Great Australian Barrier with millions of coral gametes

Regenerate the Great Australian Barrier with millions of coral gametes

A team of scientists will collect millions of gametes released in a synchronized way by corals in the Great Barrier Reef, in northeastern Australia, and disseminate them in damaged areas, academic sources reported today.

The project aims to restore the reproductive cycle of corals and increase the populations of the damaged reefs of Vlasoff and Arlington, off the coast of the city of Cairns, according to a statement from James Cook University (JCU).

"This is the first time that the entire large-scale larval breeding and settlement process will be done directly on the Great Barrier Reef," project leader Peter Harrison said in the statement.

In the initiative, the male and female gametes that join and form the coral larvae will be collected to subsequently release these new organisms in the most degraded parts in the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef, which has been badly damaged by the consecutive bleaching of 2016 and 2017.

The collection will be done next weekend coinciding with the massive and synchronized release of gametes in the Great Barrier Reef, a reproductive phenomenon that usually occurs on full moon nights between the months of October and November.

The team, made up of several Australian universities and conservation organizations, plans to restore hundreds of square meters of coral, with the hope that this will allow the recovery of several square kilometers of these marine organisms.

Harrison previously managed to restore small-scale corals in the Philippines, and in Heron and the One Tree Islands, in Great Barrier Reef, but this will be the first large-scale attempt.

The Australian scientist clarified that his project "will not save" the Great Barrier Reef, only aims to "buy time for coral populations to survive and evolve until emissions are limited and our climate stabilizes."

"Action against climate change is the only way to ensure that coral reefs can survive in the future," he said.

In July, the Australian Climate Council warned that the Great Barrier Reef could suffer a massive bleaching of its corals every two years starting in 2034 if greenhouse gas pollution rates are maintained.

The Great Barrier Reef, home to 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 varieties of mollusks, began to deteriorate in the 1990s due to the double impact of seawater warming and the increase of its acidity due to the greater presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.


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