Robot makes world-first baby coral delivery to Great Barrier Reef

phys.org | 12/13/2018 | Staff
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Ecology and technology have combined to give nature a helping hand, using a robot to deliver heat-tolerant coral larvae directly onto Australia's Great Barrier Reef in the first small-scale pilot of a new technique to help restore and recover coral reefs.

In a world-first, an undersea robot has dispersed microscopic baby corals (coral larvae) to help scientists working to repopulate parts of the Great Barrier Reef during this year's mass coral spawning event.

Six - Weeks - Great - Barrier - Reef

Six weeks after winning the Great Barrier Reef Foundation's $300,000 Out of the Blue Box Reef Innovation Challenge, Southern Cross University's Professor Peter Harrison and Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Professor Matthew Dunbabin trialled the ground-breaking initiative on Vlasoff Reef, near Cairns in north Queensland.

Professor Dunbabin engineered QUT's reef protector RangerBot into LarvalBot specifically for the coral restoration project led by Professor Harrison.

Project - Professor - Harrison - Larval - Technique

The project builds on Professor Harrison's successful larval reseeding technique piloted on the southern Great Barrier Reef in 2016 and 2017 in collaboration with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service (QPWS), following successful small-scale trials in the Philippines funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.

"This year represents a big step up for our larval restoration research and the first time we've been able to capture coral spawn on a bigger scale using large floating spawn catchers then rearing them into tiny coral larvae in our specially constructed larval pools and settling them on damaged reef areas," Professor Harrison said.

GBRF - Reef - Innovation - Challenge - Scale

"Winning the GBRF's Reef Innovation Challenge meant that we could increase the scale of the work planned for this year using mega-sized spawn catchers and fast track an initial trial of LarvalBot as a novel method of dispersing the coral larvae out on to the Reef.

"With further research and refinement, this technique has enormous...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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