The Foundation supports the work of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) in its management response to bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef.
From funding in-water field surveys to assess coral recovery and mortality, to eReefs being used to inform key decisions and monitoring activities, as well as funding projects focused on ensuring the resilience of coral reefs into the future, here’s a snapshot of some of our initiatives underway to support coral recovery…
- Powered by eReefs and part of the Marine Water Quality Dashboard, the ReefTemp model is being used as a key tool for monitoring the current crisis. GBRMPA is using ReefTemp regularly to track ‘degree heating days’ and sea surface abnormalities to inform and direct their monitoring efforts.
- The Foundation has provided direct funding for GBRMPA’s field surveys in October and November 2016 to accurately determine the extent and impact of bleaching and to monitor the Reef’s ability to recover.
Foundation-funded research projects tackling the long term impacts of this and future events include:
- Searching for super corals – Identifying genetic markers for corals more tolerant to heat stress which could be used to map heat tolerant colonies and populations and even possibly in selective breeding programs for reef restoration.
- ‘Stress test’ for corals – An innovative approach looking to create an early warning system for coral reefs under stress before any physical signs are visible. Metabolomics is being used to develop tests diagnosing coral stress and the likelihood of recovery and survival.
- Sun shield for the Reef – Scientists are testing biodegradable surface films blocking up to 30% of light entering the water they’re applied to. In theory, this represents an innovative solution to combat coral bleaching at a local scale and is going into testing in the SeaSIM facility to determine its applicability in open water reefs.
- Reef in 3D – Investigating the impact of bleaching on the 3-dimensional structure of the reef and how this links to changes in other reef communities such as fish
- Automated detection – testing automated monitoring to detect bleaching by developing algorithms showing computer image recognition software which can be up to twice as accurate than humans in detecting bleaching.