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"Underwater grain crop" used for regeneration of the reef

The GOLD Coast scientist spent the last month "mending" the Great Barrier Reef in the world's first global treasure recovery project following the following years of coral bleaching.

Coinciding with this year's annual coral reef on the reef, a team of specialists used pioneer methods of collecting coral larvae, bringing them up in the network covers over the reef.

Professor Peter Harrison in this field. Pic: provided.

Professor Peter Harrison in this field. Pic: provided.

A specially designed "underwater duster", called LarvalBot, was then used to disperse young corals in areas affected by wild bleaching events that killed about half the reef last year, according to experts.

Professor Peter Harrison and Professor QUT Professor Matthew Dunbabin have combined their coral and robotics skills to try the Vlasoff Reef program at Cairns.

Over the past few years, Professor Harrison has developed a technique to grow and cultivate larvae, 1 mm long, for coral cultures, more or less the size of dinner plates on reefs damaged by dynamite fishing in the Philippines.

Based on Lismore, Professor Harrison – who discovered massive coral spores on the Great Barrier Reef in the 1980s – said the corals laid out on the reef this summer could give the regeneration project a chance of success because they would be more resilient.

One of the schools of breeding larvae used on the reef. Pic: provided.

One of the schools of breeding larvae used on the reef. Pic: provided.

"These beads have survived the last two whitening events, we know that they are resistant to heat," said Professor Harrison.

"And that's why they have to capture the spawn because they will give us larvae that give us a chance to overcome the problems associated with rising water temperature and mass events."

He said that the technique has "huge potential" to operate on large sections of the World Heritage Site.

"We will closely monitor the progress of sedentary baby corals in the coming months and we will work on improving both technology and technology to increase scale in 2019."

Professor Dunbabin designed the RangerBot QUT, designed to help control the thorns star crown, in LarvalBot, which gently releases larvae to damaged reef areas, allowing it to settle and eventually transform into coral or coral polyps.

With the current ability to carry around 100,000 coral larvae on a mission, it is planned to scale up to millions of larvae.

The director of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, Anna Marsden, said about the project: "It's exciting to see the progress of this project from concept to implementation in a few weeks, not years."

"A recent IPCC report highlights that we have a very short window in which we can act for the long-term future of the reef, stressing the importance of looking for every opportunity to give our reefs a chance to fight."

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