Experts from the University of Queensland are experimenting with a new method of rescuing the Australian Great Barrier Reef – one of the planet's most endangered natural habitats – and their strategy might surprise you. Researchers from the University's Civil Engineering and Biosciences Department have recovered parts of dead corals and recycled them into new structures. They hope that the project not only protects active parts of the reef, but also restores it with new life.
University researchers are working with engineering, science and technology consulting firm BMT to create web structures that contain unstable debris of dead coral, with the goal of transforming it into Bombora. Bombora, or "Bommies" as the Australians call it, are large coral columns that serve as a habitat for countless species of fish and, if strategically positioned, can help repair the reef in a natural, non-invasive way.
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The team received financial support from the Australian Government and the Queensland Government to launch pilot trials for the project. Unless supported by external forces, the reef may not survive the coral bleaching of 2016 and 2017. Other projects have been proposed, including the use of huge fans to cool reef waters or develop films for protection. The coral's increased sunshine would make the Bommies a more sustainable and natural endeavor.
Professor Tom Baldock, who works on the project, explains, "On a healthy reef, the wave energy is reduced by the coral structure, allowing the broken coral to bind naturally to form a stable layer, first through growth By Crustose Coralline Algae (CCA) CCA helps connect coral debris to the reef frame and releases chemicals that attract free-roaming coral larvae. "The research team is working hard on the race against the clock to build this organic foundation and one of the most beautiful on earth protecting endangered habitats.
+ University of Queensland