Tag Archives: coral

The hidden reef made of giant algae doughnuts

A hidden reef exists behind the Great Barrier Reef—but it’s three times bigger than previously thought, constructed by algae, and made up of doughnut-shaped mounds.

Uncovering the true scale of the 6,000 km2 structure was made possible by airborne laser mapping technology LiDAR, provided by the Royal Australian Navy.

It has implications for the Great Barrier Reef’s habitat mapping and conservation zoning, as well as providing possible insights into past climates.

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Mapping species and coral bleaching by drone

Advanced, miniature cameras on drones are capturing details of landscapes that have previously been invisible. QUT researchers are using them to fly low over reefs, capturing almost 100 times the colours captured by standard cameras.

“High-altitude surveys of reefs may lack the resolution necessary to identify individual corals or bleaching effects,” says Associate Professor Felipe Gonzalez, who is leading a team of researchers and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) engineers from QUT in a partnership project between QUT and the Australian Institute for Marine Science (AIMS).

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Robo reef protector

A fleet of autonomous robots is being developed by Queensland scientists to kill crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS), and monitor the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

Dr Matthew Dunbabin and Dr Feras Dayoub of QUT are working with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation to create the RangerBot, following successful field trials of QUT’s COTSBot in 2016.

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Does coral help create rain?

Researchers have found that coral reefs may play a key role in cloud formation. Now they’re working to make climate modelling more accurate.

Australian and international scientists, led by QUT’s Professor Zoran Ristovski, spent a month in late 2016 collecting data on airborne particles emitted from the Great Barrier Reef, which they are now analysing.

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Technology to save the reefs—Queensland University of Technology

Mapping reefs with drones; robots destroying crown-of-thorns starfish; coral as a rain-maker; and more—researchers at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) are investigating new technologies to protect Australia’s reefs.

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Mangroves’ message from the grave

Mangroves help fight climate change but they’re at serious risk from its effects. That’s one of the findings from a study of a massive mangrove dieback that occurred in late 2015.

Local fishermen reported mangroves were dying along hundreds of kilometres along the Gulf of Carpentaria coastline, an area known for its barramundi fishing and high value commercial fisheries.

This caught the attention of Dr Damien Maher of Southern Cross University, who is interested in the chemistry of mangroves—how they store carbon in their soils, remove planet-warming nitrous oxides from the atmosphere, and neutralise ocean acidification by releasing alkaline chemicals into nearby waters.

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Kimberley corals are true Aussie battlers

Zoe collecting samples for further molecular analysis. Photo WA Museum
Zoe colleacting samples for further molecular analysis. Photo WA Museum

While coral reefs around the world are feeling the heat, little-known reefs in Australia’s Kimberley region are prospering, despite living in some of the toughest conditions—and scientists aren’t yet sure why.

The discovery has particular significance this summer with fears of a severe coral bleaching event to hit our northern waters—the result of steadily rising sea temperatures and a strong seasonal El Niño.

WA researchers have found that while coral reefs all around the world are feeling the heat of rising temperatures, some inshore reefs in the Kimberley region’s Bonaparte Archipelago are prospering, despite living in some of the toughest conditions. Continue reading Kimberley corals are true Aussie battlers

Exploring the mystery of the oceans

Australia and Japan are both island nations with vast maritime reserves and responsibilities. Together we’re developing the science needed to understand, use, enjoy and protect our unique marine ecosystems. And we’re collaborating to solve some of the mysteries of the ocean systems that drive the world’s climate.

Attack of the giant starfish

The waters off Japan’s tropical Okinawa Islands are home to hundreds of species of coral. The reefs attract a rich diversity of life: fish, turtles, whale sharks, and… the crown-of-thorns starfish.

Five thousand kilometres to the south is the Great Barrier Reef—the world’s largest reef system and one of the richest and most diverse natural ecosystems on Earth. The Australian Government is committed to protecting the Reef and has developed a plan to 2050 to ensure the sustainability of the Reef. But the Reef has lost half its coral cover in the past 30 years and periodic plagues of crown-of-thorns are responsible for more than forty per cent of the coral loss. Continue reading Exploring the mystery of the oceans

The complex life of coral

Dr Tracy Ainsworth’s research is changing our understanding of the tiny coral animals that built Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef. Tracy and her colleagues at James Cook University in Townsville have found that the process of coral bleaching is a far more complex than previously thought, and begins at temperatures lower than previously considered. And she’s done so by applying skills in modern cell biology which she picked up working in neuroscience laboratories.

Tracy Ainsworth, James Cook University. Credit: L’Oréal Australia/sdpmedia.com.au
Tracy Ainsworth, James Cook University. Credit: L’Oréal Australia/sdpmedia.com.au

Her achievements won her a $20,000 L’Oréal Australia For Women in Science Fellowship in 2011, which she is using to study the low light, deep water reefs that underlie tropical surface reefs at depths of 100 metres or more.
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