Great Barrier Reef’s successful coral transplant gives hope to other damaged marine eco-systems

The recent coral transplant on Australia's Great Barrier Reef could be the start of rebuilding damaged coral reefs around the world. Source Brian Kinney /

AUSTRALIA’S Great Barrier Reef is a symbol of how intricate, beautiful and incredible the world’s ecosystems are. But over the past few decades, the Great Barrier Reef has also come to represent how human actions are damaging the environment.

Mother nature’s finest feat of engineering attracts more than two million visitors every year. However, over the past 30 years, rising sea temperatures have bleached the coral and coral-eating starfish have swarmed the reef causing a decline to the habitat. Along with battering cyclones, also caused by global warming, and high carbon-emission polluting, the ocean the reef could cease its glorious existence as soon as 2050.

However, marine biologists, scientists, oceanographers and anyone who cares about the environment are desperately trying to come up with ways of saving the spectacular reef.

In the latest attempt to bring the reef back to its once thriving status, Australian scientists have trialed a coral transplant. Researchers collected a large amount of coral spawn from the reef’s Heron Island last year and have been growing them into larvae, which they transplanted back into bald and damaged areas of the reef.

On an exploration eight months later to the site of the resettled coral younglings, the researchers were delighted to discover the juvenile coral had survived and even grown.

“The success of this new research not only applies to the Great Barrier Reef but has potential global significance,” lead researcher Peter Harrison of Southern Cross University told Zee News.

“It shows we can start to restore and repair damaged coral populations where the natural supply of coral larvae has been compromised.”

While this form of reparation is brilliant in terms of scientific research – and for coral reefs to grow and maintain a crucial part of the marine ecosystem – it is also equally fundamental to acknowledge prevention is better than cure. And the prevention, in this case, comes from humans assessing and changing living habits.