Southern Cross University
Southern Cross University’s Professor Peter Harrison has some exciting news to report from a brief field trip late last year to Heron Island where the Foundation pioneered the first ever trial of the coral IVF technique to rebuild damaged reefs.
This healthy new coral is one of the thriving new colonies discovered where a high concentration of coral larvae was settled following the 2016 mass coral spawning on the Great Barrier Reef.
This promising result from the first trial on the Reef is a positive sign for the latest mission to restore coral reefs off Cairns in far north Queensland. During 2019’s coral spawning, a team of marine scientists led by Prof Harrison successfully reared many tens of millions of coral larvae in new inflatable spawn catchers and larval rearing pools funded through the Foundation’s Out of the Blue Box Reef Innovation Challenge supported by The Tiffany and Co. Foundation.
Prof Harrison said the tiny coral babies were delivered back onto reefs using various techniques including the Reef RangerBot and new LarvalBoat developed by QUT roboticist Prof Matt Dunbabin.
The field trip culminated with around 28 million larvae being released in a larval cloud over degraded reef area to help restore the ecosystem. The team is hopeful they will see signs of new healthy growth when they return, just like the Heron Island site revealed.
In 2018 and 2019, this extraordinary project was supported by The Tiffany & Co. Foundation and the pioneering trials in 2016 and 2017 were enabled through the support of the Fitzgerald Family Foundation.