Scientists working on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef have successfully trialled a new method for freezing and storing coral larvae they say could eventually help rewild reefs threatened by climate change.
Environment and Ecology (Conservation of Environment and Ecology, Environmental Pollution and Degradation)
Dimensions of the Article:
- Great Barrier Reef
- About Coral Reefs
- What does the new report say?
Great Barrier Reef
- The Great Barrier Reef, located in the Coral Sea (North-East Coast), off the coast of Queensland, Australia, is the world’s most extensive and spectacular coral reef ecosystem composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands.
- This reef structure is composed of and built by billions of tiny organisms, known as coral polyps which are tiny, soft-bodied organisms and their base which is a hard, protective limestone skeleton called a calicle, forms the structure of coral reefs.
- It was selected as a World Heritage Site in 1981.
About Coral Reefs
- Indonesia has the largest coral reef area in the world and the Great Barrier Reef of the Queensland coast of Australia is the largest aggregation of coral reefs.
- India, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Chagos have the maximum coral reefs in South Asia.
- Coral Reefs protect humanity from natural calamities acting as a barrier, provide revenue and employment through tourism and recreation and also provide habitats for fishes, starfish and sea anemones.
- Coral blocks are used for buildings and road construction, the lime supplied by corals is used in cement industries and coral reefs may also be used in jewellery.
- India has four coral reef areas:
- Gulf of Mannar,
- Andaman and Nicobar Islands,
- Lakshadweep islands
- Gulf of Kutch.
Risks and threats to coral reefs
- Due to anthropogenic activities such as coastal development, destructive fishing methods and pollution from domestic and industrial sewage.
- Due to increased sedimentation, over-exploitation and recurring cyclones.
- Coral diseases such as black band and white band due to infectious microorganisms introduced by the human population that live on the coastal regions.
- Cryogenically, frozen coral can be stored and later reintroduced to the wild but the current process requires sophisticated equipment including lasers.
- Scientists say a new lightweight “cryomesh” can be manufactured cheaply and better preserves coral.
- In a December lab trial, the world’s first with Great Barrier Reef coral, scientists used the cryomesh to freeze coral larvae at the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences (AIMS).
- The coral had been collected from the reef for the trial, which coincided with the brief annual spawning window.
- The cryomesh was previously trialled on smaller and larger varieties of the Hawaiian corals. A trial on the larger variety failed.
- Trials are continuing with larger varieties of Great Barrier Reef coral.
- The mesh technology, which will help store coral larvae at -196°C (-320.8°F), was devised by a team from the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering.
-Source: The Hindu