Scientists are regrowing coral from larvae on damaged patches of the Great Barrier Reef in a project that could change the management of reef systems worldwide.
Professor Peter Harrison from Southern Cross University has been collecting coral spawn off Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef and maturing it in tanks.
“It’s really exciting, this essentially is the rebirth of the reef,” Professor Harrison said.
A team of scientists has deposited millions of coral larvae back onto damaged areas that may not regenerate naturally.
They created large enclosures around the coral using mesh curtains and special tiles to monitor growth.
Days later, photographs reveal coral polyps had survived, and were settling into their new home.
It is the first time this technique has been used in Australia, and it follows a successful trial in the Philippines that transformed reefs devastated by blast fishing.
“I think that this could be something that changes management of reefs worldwide. All of the reefs, everywhere in the world, are suffering at the moment,” Dr David Wackenfeld, Chief scientist at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said.
“In the past, the Marine Park Authority has had a philosophy of basically getting out of nature’s way.
“But climate change is really changing that. The reef is battered and bruised. It’s more impacted than it’s ever been before.”
Dr Wackenfeld said it had never been more urgent to tackle climate change.