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Posts Tagged ‘Great Barrier Reef’

2048

Photo: Erika Fish/QUT/AAP 
A pumice raft in the southwest Pacific in 2012. It is similar to the one now floating toward Australia. Pumice is a porous rock extruded by volcanoes. It can carry marine life, including coral, across the ocean and can help to replenish reefs.

Sometimes Nature works miracles that can leave a person breathless. So I feel a need to reach into Greek mythology for an explanation of the following.

The Great Barrier Reef suffered an 89% collapse in new coral after bleaching incidents in 2016 and 2017, according to the Guardian. But now from the sea bottom comes a repair kit. A message must have been sent through some mysterious channel to Poseidon, and he responded with roughly 37,000 acres of floating pumice carrying help.

Reports the Guardian, “A giant raft of pumice, which was spotted in the Pacific and is expected to make its way towards Australia, could help the recovery of the Great Barrier Reef from its bleaching episode by restocking millions of tiny marine organisms, including coral.

“The pumice raft, which is about 150 sq km, was produced by an underwater volcano near Tonga. It was first reported by Australian couple Michael Hoult and Larissa Brill, who were sailing a catamaran to Fiji, on 16 August.

” ‘We entered a total rock rubble slick made up of pumice stones from marble to basketball size,’ the couple said in a Facebook post. ‘The waves were knocked back to almost calm and the boat was slowed to 1 knot. The rubble slick went as far as we could see in the moonlight and with our spotlight.’ …

“Since then, the pair have been working with Queensland University of Technology geologist Scott Bryan by providing pictures and samples of the volcanic rock.

“Bryan said the raft will be the temporary home for billions of marine organisms. Marine life including barnacles, corals, crabs, snails and worms will tag along as it travels toward Australia and become a ‘potential mechanism for restocking the Great Barrier Reef. … Based on past pumice raft events we have studied over the last 20 years, it’s going to bring new healthy corals and other reef dwellers to the Great Barrier Reef.’ …

“Pumice forms when frothy molten rock cools rapidly and forms a lightweight bubble-rich rock that can float. The pumice raft comes from an unnamed but only recently discovered underwater volcano that satellite images reveal erupted about 7 August.

“[It] should begin to hit Australian shores in about seven months’ time, passing by New Caledonia, Vanuatu and reefs in the eastern Coral Sea along the way as coral begins to spawn. …

“Bryan said, ‘Each piece of pumice is a rafting vehicle. It’s a home and a vehicle for marine organisms to attach and hitch a ride across the deep ocean to get to Australia.’ ”

More here.

 

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Photo: Auscape/Getty Images/Universal Images Group
Scientists hope to restore damaged coral on the Great Barrier Reef with a technique that has seen success in the Philippines.

As I was preparing this post on an effort to save the Great Barrier Reef, I stumbled upon the news that the 37-year-old ocean warrior behind the climate-change movie Revolution, Rob Stewart, died a year ago in a dive off Key Largo.

That gives a whole different cast to my thoughts. I was going to say something about how happy he must be about the new coral-breeding program that offers a “glimmer of hope” to the Great Barrier Reef. Now it’s “how happy he would have been.” The world can ill-afford to lose an energetic ocean crusader like Stewart.

As the Guardian reports, the coral-breeding project has seen success in the Philippines and is now being tried in Australia.

“Scientists have stepped in as environmental matchmakers by breeding baby coral on the Great Barrier Reef in a move that could have worldwide significance.

“Coral eggs and sperm were collected from Heron Island’s reef during [the November 2016] coral spawning to produce more than a million larvae. The larvae were returned to the wild and placed on to reef patches in underwater mesh tents, with 100 surviving and growing successfully.

“The lead project researcher and Southern Cross University professor Peter Harrison, who discovered mass coral spawning in the 1980s, says the ‘results are very promising.’ …

“The project has the ability to restore damaged coral populations and has seen similar success in the Philippines where blast fishing using explosives to kill schools of fish has destroyed coral.

“The Great Barrier Reef Foundation managing director, Anna Marsden, said the research is an important step for the reef, but one that should not lessen the strong action needed against climate change.”

That’s because, as I learned watching Stewart’s movie, it’s the CO2 resulting from climate change that is the big danger.

More at the Guardian, here. See also my review of the movie Revolution, here.

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