Larval Restoration

Ecology and technology combine during the worlds largest ever coral restoration effort.

Larval Restoration

#The project

In a world first, 'LarvalBot' has dispersed microscopic baby corals (coral larvae) to help scientists working to repopulate parts of the Great Barrier Reef during the 2018 mass coral spawning event.

Ecology and technology have combined to give nature a helping hand, using a robot to deliver heat-tolerant coral larvae directly onto the Great Barrier Reef, in the first small scale pilot of a new technique to help restore and recover coral reefs.

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

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.

Heart Reef, Whitsundays

#Out of the Blue Box Reef Innovation Challenge

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 QUT’s Professor Matthew Dunbabin trialled the ground-breaking initiative on Vlasoff Reef, near Cairns in north Queensland.

#The process

1. Larval Pools prepared

1. Larval Pools prepared

2. Natural Coral spawning event occurs

2. Natural Coral spawning event occurs

3. Spawn collected

3. Spawn collected

4. Larvalbot programmed using Ipad

4. Larvalbot programmed using Ipad

5. Spawn attached to LarvalBot

5. Spawn attached to LarvalBot

6. Coral babies dispersed onto damaged reef

6. Coral babies dispersed onto damaged reef


#Project partners

Queensland University of Technology
Tiffany & Co Foundation
Southern Cross University



The 2018 Larval Restoration Project (an Advance Queensland Small Business Innovation Research initiative funded by the Queensland and Australian Governments) is a large scale collaboration involving researchers Peter Harrison (Southern Cross University), Katie Chartrand (James Cook University) and David Suggett (University of Technology Sydney), the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service, Aroona Boat Charters, Argo Expeditions, Biopixel, Reef Magic, Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef, Yirrganydji Land and Sea Rangers, Gunggandji Land and Sea Rangers, Cairns Marine, QUT and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef are following the progress of the project and the annual spawning event (@citizensGBR) on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and the project microsite: https://citizensgbr.org/p/larv...