New breeding program could help restore Great Barrier Reef

Assisted reproductive technology has provided a much-needed glimmer of hope for Australia’s ailing Great Barrier Reef.

Researchers claim that Australia’s dying coral populations can be revived using the Assisted Breeding Program. The Great Barrier Reef stretches more than 2,300 kilometres down north-eastern Australia and has been facing various threats including climate change and pollution.

But with this new technology, researchers have been capturing coral spawn and rearing millions of larvae in large tanks. Millions of coral larvae are then placed back onto damaged areas of the reef. The growth of the larvae is then monitored.

Early results estimated that 100 juvenile coral have survived and are growing. The assisted breeding method has been tried in the Philippines before but it is the first time it has been used in Australia.

“These are the first experiments using this larval restoration technique on the Great Barrier Reef. The work is still experimental at the moment but the results from these last experiments will help us understand how we can scale up to hectare-scale reef patches in future,” Professor Peter Harrison from Southern Cross University, one of the researchers involved in the project told VOA News.

The Australian government is contributing more than $310,000 for this project.

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