Measures being investigated to help protect and repair the Reef
Shading and cooling
Aimed at preventing coral stress by cooling and shading reef waters, these type of interventions include pumping cooler water onto reefs, and shading techniques such as applying surface films and reducing sunlight through cloud brightening and misting.
Reef structures and stabilisation
Methods such as stabilising broken and dead unstable coral rubble, and creating artificial reef surfaces and structures, aim to promote reef recovery following a disturbance - such as cyclone, ship grounding or fatal coral bleaching - by supporting reef biodiversity, coral recruitment and regrowth.
Reproduction and recruitment
Targeting reproduction, recruitment, and recruit survival to enhance recovery following a disturbance, this type of method includes reseeding reefs with coral larvae collected from natural spawning slicks as well as coral cultured through aquaculture.
Using bio-control approaches to facilitate reef recovery or maintain reef health, this type of method includes reducing populations of coral predators and competitors.
Probiotics and enhanced bleaching survival
Aimed at preventing coral stress (which causes coral bleaching) or facilitating recovery following stress. These include manipulating corals’ association with its resident algae, its microbiome, fungi or viruses to enhance survival and growth following stress.
Aimed at enhancing temperature tolerance, and other desirable coral traits, to facilitate natural populations’ adaptation to environmental change, this type of method includes moving or breeding existing, temperature-tolerant coral stock, interbreeding coral species for enhanced vigour, or conditioning through stress exposure.
Synthetic biology and genetic engineering
These type of methods are aimed at enhancing the stress tolerance of the coral animal or symbiotic partners.
Icon artwork by Dr Sue Pillans https://www.drsuepillans.com