24. January 2022
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IVF coral spawns for first time, paving way for Great Barrier Reef repair

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Professor Harrison stated he all the time anticipated the coral would develop from the collected spawn slower within the southern Great Barrier Reef.

Replanted coral spawning on reefs off Heron Island off Gladstone for the first time.

Replanted coral spawning on reefs off Heron Island off Gladstone for the first time.Credit:Southern Cross University

He believes it proves the scheme, involving gathering sperm and eggs from spawning coral and attaching the subsequently grown child corals onto broken reefs – will be capable to repair broken reefs on a bigger scale.

“The good news is – just as predicted – this process works just as well on the Great Barrier Reef as it does in the other reef systems I have been working on,” he stated.

“We have grown for the first time sexually reproductive adults and therefore – when they spawned last week – proves the success of this process.”

In north Queensland the newborn corals planted on the northern Great Barrier Reef trial websites are but to succeed in sexual maturity and spawn – sending eggs and sperm from hotter water temperature-tolerant corals into the reef waters to be collected; and once more replanted on to patchy, broken reefs.

Replanted acropora coral near Heron Island that has grown from collected coral spawn in 2016 that has spawaned for the first time in November 2021.

Replanted acropora coral close to Heron Island that has grown from collected coral spawn in 2016 that has spawaned for the first time in November 2021.Credit:Southern Cross University

In larval swimming pools at Lizard Island, tens of millions of coral larvae collected throughout current coral spawning occasions at the moment are rising as “a quarter of million” child corals on “settlement tiles”, constituted of crushed historical reefs into shallow meshed areas.

From these larval swimming pools they too will probably be re-attached again to the broken reefs.

The concern now’s “scale”.

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“What that Heron Island result shows is that process does work. What we have been doing is developing new equipment to scale it up,” Professor Harrison stated.

Collecting coral spawn is now routine, the time and dates are recognized – linked to full moons in October and November.

“We’ve calculated that we would need to start developing tens or hundreds of million of these juvenile corals to start getting to very large scale,” Professor Harrison stated.

“All of that is doable,” he stated.

“We just need the funding to develop more of these larval pools, put them in multiple reef locations so that instead of operating as a research project in just one reef location during each of those spawning periods, the way to scale it up now is to get dozens of teams working in many different reef areas during each of these coral spawning periods.”

Coral researchers from the Great Barrier Reef Foundation move a coral embryo nursery into position in the Whitsundays.

Coral researchers from the Great Barrier Reef Foundation transfer a coral embryo nursery into place within the Whitsundays.Credit:Great Barrier Reef Foundation

The Coral IVF program is one in all many packages partly funded by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, which in 2018 signed a six-year, $443 million partnership with the federal authorities to speculate on the Great Barrier Reef.

The broad idea is to draw personal sponsorship over the six years to broaden the $443 million by $357 million to $800 million as a part of their Reef Trust Partnership.

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After three years a further $157 million has been pledged to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation’s Reef Trust by September 2021, managing director Anna Marsden stated.

“At the Partnership midway point, more than 200 projects are under way with over 400 partners with 65 per cent of the grant committed, and we are on track to deliver against the partnership’s objective of achieving significant, measurable improvement in the health of the Great Barrier Reef,” she stated.

“There has been $157 million pledged towards the Partnership’s leveraging target, and this is made up of gifts from individuals, corporates, trusts and foundations and research and project delivery co-contributions.”

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley stated she welcomed the outcomes to this point.

“The deployment of millions of larvae will help replenish the reefs around Lizard Island which have suffered multiple disturbances since 2014; crown-of-thorns starfish, severe cyclones, and three mass coral bleaching events,” she stated.

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