Tag Archives: great barrier reef

Sadly, cryogenics may be the key to saving the Great Barrier Reef (with video)

Scientists from the United States and Australia have teamed up in a desperate attempt to find new solutions to the Great Barrier Reef problem, which threatens to go beyond the point of no return. They are currently trying to save disappearing species by freezing coral eggs and sperm, so that instead of becoming extinct, species could be grown in a lab and then reintroduced into their natural habitat.

Scientists are now considering that cryogenics may be the last method of preserving species which are otherwise doomed, due to human activity and global warming. For decades, biologists have drawn attention about one of the world’s most valuable treasures being destroyed, but instead of slowing down, this destruction has accelerated even further. This is why scientists are forced to go for this last ditch tactic.

“If we were to use it right now, we have the ability to take the sperm, thaw it out, re-animate it and fertilize eggs and create sexually produced coral,” said Mary Hagedom, a scientist from the Smithsonian Institute.

Hundreds or even thousands of corals have been frozen by scientists in their attempt, and so far, the results seem quite promising. During this process, the eggs and sperm is frozen separately, and researchers are trying to prioritize which species are frozen first.

“It depends on a lot of factors, including whether a species lends itself to freezing. Some species survive the freezing process better than others,” said Madeline van Oppen, a scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

In parallel, researchers are trying to engineer some sort of super coral, which will be able to better survive rising sea temperatures, but this is still far from becoming a reality.


Fishing Ban in the large Coral Reef



Reefs are constituted from aragonite structures produced by living organisms, found in shallow, tropical marine waters with little to no nutrients in the water. A reef is the result of generations of reef-building corals, and not just corals, but also, other organisms. They are take a huge amount of time to form and are fragile – but they are easily destroyed by a number of things.

The importance of coral reefs is humongous. They support an extraordinary biodiversity and are a very important part of our planet. But on the other side, human activity is the biggest danger to the reef and it is intesifying at great rates, threatening to have a catastrophic impact on underwater ecosystems.

The live food fish trade has been implicated as a driver of decline due to the use of cyanide and other chemicals in the capture of small fishes. Finally, above normal water temperatures, due to climate phenomena such as El Niño but more commonly global warming, can cause coral bleaching (the loss of intracellular endosymbionts, without which corals cannot survive). According to The Nature Conservancy, if destruction increases at the current rate, 70% of the world’s coral reefs will have disappeared within 50 years. This would be a disaster for our planet.

apo reef

But a fishing ban around Apo Reef, the largest coral reef in the Philippines and the second largest contiguous reef in the world after the Great Barrier Reef is a thing which is probably going to be a step in stopping the fading of the reef.

“This ‘no-take’ zone will allow the reef and its residents ample time to recover from years of fishing,” stressed John Manul of WWF-Philippines. The reef has 27,469-hectare and it is surrounded by mangrove forest, which serves as a source of food, nursery and spawning ground of several coastal fish and marine species.

“You would hear 25 to 30 dynamite blasts daily,” said Robert Duquil, a former protected area assistant superintendent. “The international diving community lost interest in the area and destructive activities prevailed.”.

“Unfortunately, Apo is plagued by millions of these starfish, probably due to a lack of natural predators like the giant triton, napoleon wrasse and harlequin shrimp,” said Gregg Yan of WWF-Philippines. “We hope that the ban will ensure protection of these predators and the many other reef species.”. The reef needs us and it is our duty to shelter it; or think that without the reef the planet is dying. Look at it how you wish.