In the world’s first experiment that will restore reefs threatened by climate change to their natural state, scientists working on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef have successfully tested a new method for freezing and preserving coral larvae.
As scientists race against time to protect coral reefs as rising ocean temperatures destabilize delicate ecosystems, they have announced this achievement.
They said the Great Barrier Reef has suffered four bleaching events in the last seven years, including the first during La Nina, which brings cooler temperatures.
Frozen reefs could also be recovered and later deployed in the ocean, but the current process requires advanced equipment, including lasers.
They said that lighter “freezers” could be made at a lower cost and would preserve the reefs better.
Scientists used freezers to freeze coral larvae at the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences in a laboratory experiment in December, the first of its kind with the Great Barrier Reef.
Whereas, corals were collected from the Barrier Reef for the experiment, which coincided with the occurrence of the brief annual reproductive period.
Coral reefs (archive)
In turn, a senior researcher at the Smithsonian National Zoo and the Institute of Bioconservation Science, Mary Hagedorn, explained to Reuters from a laboratory at the Australian Institute of Marine Life, that it was possible to secure the biodiversity of coral, explaining that this would provide tools in the future to help restore coral reefs, as this technology would be for reefs. Corals in the future are a real transformative factor, according to her expression.
It is noteworthy that the experiment with freezing tools was previously conducted on smaller and larger sizes of Hawaiian reefs, but it failed on the largest sizes.
Trials of larger sizes are also continuing in the Great Barrier Reef.
The experiments involve scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Life, the Smithsonian National Zoo, the Institute of Conservation Bioscience, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and the Taronga Conservation Society of Australia under the Reef Recovery and Adaptation Programme.