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Australia’s Great Barrier Reef To Get Help From Rescue Bot

The Great Barrier Reef is about the same size as Italy or Japan.

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great barrier reef
A large piece of coral can be seen in the lagoon on Lady Elliot Island, on the Great Barrier Reef, northeast of Bundaberg town in Queensland, Australia. VOA

For the first time an underwater robot is to be used to plant baby coral to parts of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef damaged by mass bleaching, as scientists plan to collect hundreds of millions of coral spawn off the Queensland city of Cairns in the coming weeks.

Most coral reproduce through spawning, where eggs and sperm are pushed into the water at the same time. In northern Australia, researchers are preparing to harvest this mass release of coral spawn on the Great Barrier Reef. They will be reared into baby corals in floating enclosures. Then they will be delivered as so-called ‘larval clouds’ to Vlasoff Reef about an hour’s sailing from Cairns by a semi-autonomous robot.

Professor Peter Harrison, the director of the Marine Ecology Research Center at Southern Cross University, said science is giving a nature a helping hand.

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Many ways wee introduced in the past to map ocean floors and the newest one is from Japan. Pixabay

“What we are trying to do now is compensate for the loss of corals that would normally provide enough larvae for the system to naturally heal,” Harrison said.

Large areas of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef have been damaged by severe bleaching – or loss of the algae that gives coral its color. The bleaching is caused by rising water temperatures and made worse by climate change.

The experiment on Vlasoff reef, which was badly affected by the mass bleaching, will be coordinated by divers, who will guide the spawn-spreading robot, known as the LarvalBot.

Professor Matthew Dunbabin from the Queensland University of Technology says time is of essence.

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The Great Barrier Reef, Australia. VOA

“In future projects we are hoping that we can start to do that more autonomously, but this is very new and we are up against the clock in terms of trying to get this in the field as quick as possible to make sure that we can have a reef to preserve,” Dunbabin said.

A coral reef is made up of millions of tiny animals called coral polyps. The reefs are critical ecosystems, and provide a home for at least a quarter of all marine species.

Also Read: Australia Rejects U.N. Climate Report, Continues Using Coal

The Great Barrier Reef is about the same size as Italy or Japan. Thirty species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises have been recorded along the reef.

It faces a range of threats, from climate change and overfishing, to the run-off of pollution from farms, to coral-eating crown of thorns starfish. (VOA)

Next Story

China’s Liu He To Travel To United States, Aims To Resolve Ongoing Trade War

The United States has long complained about access to the vast Chinese market and Beijing's demands U.S. companies reveal their technology advances.

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U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, left, chats with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He during a photograph session after their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, June 3, 2018. (VOA)

China’s economic czar, Vice Premier Liu He, will travel to the United States later this month for the second round of negotiations aimed at resolving the ongoing trade war between the global economic giants.

Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng told reporters in Beijing Thursday that Liu will visit Washington on January 30-31. He was invited by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

U.S. negotiators were optimistic after the first round of talks in Beijing last week that the two sides would be able to resolve tariff disputes that have upset global markets.

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Flags fly in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 1, 2019. VOA

The trade talks are the result of an agreement last month between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to stop the tit-for-tat tariff conflict between the two countries for 90 days starting on New Year’s Day.

Also Read: U.S. To Roll Out New Strategy For Space Based Missile Defense

The United States has long complained about access to the vast Chinese market and Beijing’s demands U.S. companies reveal their technology advances.

If no deal is reached by March 2, U.S. tariffs on $200 billion Chinese goods will rise from 10 percent to 25 percent. (VOA)