The Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF) has an exciting announcement: The first generation of IVF coral babies have officially reproduced on a degraded reef.
As described by GBRF, coral IVF uses modern technology to breed and distribute corals so they have the highest chance of survival. “Our researchers capture coral eggs and sperm, called spawn, from healthy reefs and rear millions of baby corals in specially-designed floating pools on the Reef and in tanks. When they are ready, we deliver them onto damaged reefs to restore and repopulate them,” explained the foundation.
The foundation has been testing out their IVF experiment in reefs near Queensland, Australia’s Heron Island. The concept has been successfully tested in Singapore, but this is the first time it has worked in the Great Barrier Reef. This trial led to the successful birth of 22 colonies that have all grown to maturity.
The IVF corals have superior survival rates because they are grown to be more resilient to bleaching. They have grown in nurseries alongside the algae zooxanthellae, which has a higher resistance to heat than algae which protects coral naturally. The algae is also paired with the coral earlier than it would be in the wild.
Now that this method has proven to be effective, the next step is scaling up the breeding and distribution operations. “Saving the Reef is a huge task, but having proof that this innovative, cutting-edge science works gives us hope,” said GBRF Managing Director Anna Marsden in a statement.