Australia to offer thousands of dollers for Great Barrier Reef rescue ideas

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Australia is calling on the world’s top scientific minds to help save the Great Barrier Reef, offering hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund research into protecting the world’s largest living structure.

The 2017 bleaching marked the second-straight year that corals have been damaged by warming sea temperatures, an unprecedented occurrence that scientists said would give the invertebrate marine creatures insufficient time to fully recover.

Cause

The UNESCO World Heritage-listed reef is reeling from significant coral bleaching due to warming sea temperatures linked to climate change.

The 2,300-kilometre site is also under pressure from farming runoff, development and predatory crown-of-thorns starfish, with experts warning it could be suffering irreparable damage.

Process of fund allocation

  • Up to Aus$250,000 is available for an initial feasibility stage, where researchers can test the technical and commercial viability of their proposals for up to six months.
  • More than one proposal is expected to be accepted at this stage, the government said.
  • A further Aus$1 million will then be made available to the best solutions at the proof of concept stage, where applicants develop and test their prototypes for up to 12 months.
  • Those that are successful will retain intellectual property rights and will be able to try to commercialise their innovation.

Coral ReefsImage result for Great Barrier Reef maP

Coral reefs are some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, housing tens of thousands of marine species. About one-third of all marine fish species live part of their lives on coral reefs. 

Bahaviour & Diet

Corals are ancient animals related to jellyfish and anemones. An individual coral is known as a polyp, a very small and simple organism consisting mostly of a stomach topped by a tentacle-bearing mouth. The polyps extend their tentacles at night to sting and ingest tiny organisms called plankton and other small creatures.

Thousands of identical polyps live together and form a coral colony. Each polyp excretes a calcium carbonate exoskeleton beneath it and, over long periods of time, the skeletons of many coral colonies add up to build the structure of a coral reef. Many other species – fish, invertebrates, algae and microorganisms – make their homes on and around this reef.
Reefs only occur in shallow areas that are reachable by sunlight because of the relationship between coral and algae. Various types of microscopic algae, known as Symbiodinium, live inside of the coral, providing them with food and helping them to grow faster. In many ways, reef-building corals are animals that act like plants – they stay in one place and get some of their energy from the sun.

Range

Coral reefs are found all around the world in tropical and subtropical oceans. They are usually found in shallow areas at a depth of less than 150 feet. However, some coral reefs extend even deeper, up to about 450 feet deep. Despite how important coral reefs are to life in the ocean, all of them in the world add up to less than one percent of the sea floor – an area about the size of France.

Coral bleachingImage result for Great Barrier Reef maP

When corals are stressed by changes in conditions such as temperature, light, or nutrients, they expel the symbiotic algae living in their tissues, causing them to turn completely white.

Warmer water temperatures can result in coral bleaching. When water is too warm, corals will expel the algae (zooxanthellae) living in their tissues causing the coral to turn completely white. This is called coral bleaching. When a coral bleaches, it is not dead. Corals can survive a bleaching event, but they are under more stress and are subject to mortality.


Coral Bleaching Infographic

 

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