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Coral larvae farming: a promising solution for endangered coral reefs.

© Marie Fontaine -

Coral reefs, the jewels of the oceans, are ecosystems of great biological diversity.

More than 25% of the fish in the oceans depend on healthy coral reefs. They live around them and feed on them. Reefs are essential to the survival of a million different species that are totally dependent on them.

However, these valuable structures are seriously threatened by climate change, rising temperatures and ocean acidity levels.

Blanchiement des coraux du au réchauffement climatique
Coral bleaching due to global warming

In response to these challenges, Australian scientist Peter Harrison has developed an ingenious system for rearing coral larvae, offering new hope for the restoration and preservation of coral reefs.

The marine biologist is currently a professor at Southern Cross University in Australia. For more than three decades, he has dedicated his career to the study of corals and their reproduction.

Peter Harrison's coral reef restoration system is based on four main phases:

1 - Collection of coral larvae: During the coral spawning period, larvae are collected from the water surface using very fine nets.

2 - Larvae rearing: The larvae are placed in floating pools anchored in the sand at sea, where they are protected from predators for about a week.

3 - Transfer of the larvae: The larvae are then transferred into containers to be dispersed in strategic areas of the reef.

4 - Deposit and monitoring of the larvae: An underwater robot equipped with a GPS drops the larvae in the reef areas where the coral is to be developed. The larvae are then monitored to ensure their proper development.

One of the main advantages of this method is its ability to cover a much larger area than alternative techniques, which focus on growing corals in the laboratory before reintroducing them as adults. Thanks to the dissemination of the larvae, it is possible to restore areas ranging from 150 to 200 square meters in only 5 to 6 years.

The researcher's system aims to increase the resilience of corals to global warming by selecting adult breeding corals that are resistant to temperature variations and have survived bleaching. These corals are then used to harvest the eggs and sperm needed to produce larvae.

Peter Harrison's project has already been successfully tested in the Philippines and on the Great Barrier Reef. The goal is now to deploy this system in other regions, such as the Maldives, Vietnam and the Virgin Islands. In addition, collaborations with Australian aboriginal groups are underway to involve more stakeholders in coral reef conservation.

By combining the efforts of the scientific community, governments, non-governmental organizations and local communities, this innovative approach could help reverse the current trend of coral reef decline and ensure their survival for future generations.


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