Scientists freeze Great Barrier Reef coral in world's first experiment
(Morning News) Scientists working in Australia's Great Barrier Reef have successfully experimented with a new way to freeze and store coral larvae that could eventually help reefs threatened by climate change rejuvenate.
Reuters reported that in a laboratory trial in December, scientists at the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences (AIMS) used cryogenic membranes to freeze coral larvae, the world's first use of Great Barrier Reef corals. The corals used were collected from the reef for the trial, which coincides with a short spawning period each year.
Cryogenic-frozen corals can be stored and later released back into the wild, but the current process requires sophisticated equipment, including lasers. Scientists say a new lightweight "cryomesh" that is inexpensive to manufacture could better protect corals.
Scientists are scrambling to protect coral reefs as warming oceans disrupt fragile ecosystems. The Great Barrier Reef has experienced four bleaching events in the past seven years, including the first bleaching during the La Nina phenomenon, which usually brings cooler temperatures.
"If we can ensure coral biodiversity, then we'll have the tools of the future to really help restore the reef," said Mary Hagedorn, a senior research scientist at the Smithsonian National Zoo and Institute for Conservation Biology. This technology will be a real game changer for the reef of the future. "