A massive mass of volcanic rock drifting through the Pacific Ocean to Australia, scientists say, could help rebuild the Great Barrier Reef amid widespread fears about the future of the ecosystem destroyed by climate change.
Australia's Queensland University of Technology (QUT) said that the floating pumice leaf, known as a raft, is expected to reach the Australian coast in about eight months, bringing with it "billions of marine animals perched on the coast." To route away ".
The raft covers about 150 square kilometers, the university said last week.
It was probably produced by an underwater volcano near Tonga, which broke out sometime around 7th August, NASA said.
Pumice is light and is made when magma is cooled quickly.
"We've entered a total debris stone from pumice from marble to basketball size," it said in a Facebook post.
" The waves were almost calmly thrown back on and the boat slowed to 1 knot," they added.
"The rubble chute went as far as we could see in the moonlight and with our headlights on."
The pair temporarily got stuck after stones blocked the rudder of their boat, but later was able to navigate a path out of the block.
Following their encounter, the couple sent samples of the pumice to researchers at the QUT.
In a statement, Scott Bryan, one of the geologists who examined the samples provided, said the raft would "bring new healthy corals and other reef inhabitants to the Great Barrier Reef."
He later told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that the rock probably consisted of "billions to billions of pumice pieces," each of which "is a vehicle for a marine organism."
"When it comes down to it, [the pumice raft will be] it covers a whole range of organisms from algae, barnacles, corals, crabs, snails and worms," he told ABC.
The Great Barrier Reef with an area of 348,000 square kilometers. It was classified by UNESCO in 1981 as the largest and most spectacular coral reef ecosystem in the world.
In recent years, however, it has been severely damaged as water temperatures have killed large coral swaths.
Al Jazeera and news agencies