Scientists have embarked on a project in Australia to preserve one of the country’s most important natural wonders.
They’re gathering and freezing coral from the Great Barrier Reef, so that samples of threatened species will be available in the future.
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system, stretching more than 2,600 kilometers along Australia’s east coast.
But climate change is already having an impact on this natural but fragile wonder. Parts of the reef were damaged in mass coral bleaching in 1998 and 2002. And experts are concerned that warmer waters in the future will make coral bleaching an annual event.
Charlie Veron, Australian Inst. of Marine Science, said, “Coral reefs look like they’re going to be hit first and hardest from climate change. When coral goes extinct it’ll take all of the other species with them, the diversity of the oceans will plunge.”
Now a team from the Zoological Society of London is taking steps to preserve the reef. They are gathering, freezing and storing the at-risk coral in a stainless steel chamber.
Other scientists, though agreeing the sampling is an important process, believe it’s not the solution to the problems faced by coral reefs.
Charlie Veron said, “It’s a good exercise, it’s needed, but it’s not an answer.”