Introduction: Can We Save The Reef? (02:00)
Prof. Emma Johnston advises the Board of Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority on how to conserve corals off North Queensland. Before examining scientific research, she joins diver John Rumney, checking the damage after two years of record high temperatures.
Reef Crisis (04:30)
Rumney, the Great Barrier Reef Legacy Director, and Johnston survey corals; algae covers much, signifying death. Four major bleaching events have occurred since the 1980s. The Australian system is an important ecosystem that is sustaining massive damages.
Human Interference (02:43)
The Great Barrier Reef protects coastlines and drives tourism. Johnston connects coral loss to carbon emissions; she questions whether breeding hardier species is the solution. Intervention is historically disastrous, but the board may take the risk.
Coral Study (09:26)
Corals are calcium carbonate generating polyp colonies; algae cells photosynthesize, providing most of their food. At Hawaiian Institute of Marine Biology, Ruth Gates researches how warming oceans impact their symbiotic relationship and cause bleaching.
Adapting for Survival (05:44)
Hawaiian corals have experienced bleaching; hardier types have recovered. Gates's goal is to produce and condition more heat resistant sorts. Johnston hopes they can be planted into the Great Barrier Reef after the next warming event.
Stronger Symbionts (05:24)
Corals spawn once annually, making timing critical to breeding experiments; they lack algae at birth. Gates aspires to make heat resistant varieties, introducing them to hosts at the embryo stage. She and Johnston discuss risks and benefits of assisted evolution to mitigate climate change damages.
Accelerated Warming (04:04)
Johnston visits University of Sydney, where researchers use multibeam sonar to map the seafloor; coral remnants from the last ice age are detected. Climate has dramatically changed over time, influencing sea levels. Currently, temperatures are rising too rapidly for ocean life adaptation.
Hybrid Solutions (10:36)
Australian Institute of Marine Science researchers use the National Sea Simulator to reconstruct Great Barrier Reef conditions, setting tanks to current and future temperatures. They test and cross breed corals, experimenting with the introduction of heat resilient algae.
Australian Institute of Marine Science Results (04:23)
The corals accept the experimental algae; hybrids survive in simulated future conditions. Johnston discusses intervention risks. To mitigate climate change damages, she recommends the board attempt to save the Great Barrier Reef through assisted evolution.
Credits: Can We Save The Reef? (00:40)
Credits: Can We Save The Reef?
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