An ultrafine "Sun Shield" created by Australian scientists could be used to protect the Great Barrier Reef further coral bleaching

By spraying a protective coating On the water surface, researchers believe that parts of the reef could be protected from sunlight and effectively cooled.

"While it is still early and the experiments were carried out on a small scale, the testing shows that the film reduces light by up to 30%," said Anna Marsden of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF) [19659009] Invisible Sun Shade

The film is made from 100% biodegradable calcium carbonate and is 50,000 times thinner than human hair, according to GBRF.

"It is designed to sit on the water surface above the coral rather than directly on the coral to provide an effective barrier against the sun," Marsden said.

A team of scientists, led by the pioneer of Australian polymer banknotes, tested the protective coating on various coral species and found that the film showed less bleaching in most species.

No Comprehensive Solution

Scientists believe that the film has the potential to prevent further damage to the World Heritage listed area, which suffered significant coral bleaching waves due to rising sea temperatures and ocean acidification.

While not a solution for the entire reef spanning 348,000 square kilometers, Marsden said it could be applied to smaller, higher-risk areas.

"The concept requires more work and testing before it comes to it, but it's an exciting development at a time when we need to explore all possible options to make sure we have a Great Barrier Reef for future generations." , she said.

Decades of degradation

The site, which attracts millions of tourists every year, is the world's largest coral reef with 400 coral species, 1500 species of fish and 4000 mollusc species.

Scientists have observed widespread bleaching across the reef since the 1990s, with major bleaching events occurring in 2016 and 2017, accounting for an estimated two-thirds of the reef.

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Underwater images show how future generations of coral reefs will be created during the last coral spawning on the Great Barrier Reef, reports Matthew Stock.
Video provided by Reuters

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