Have your say on the next innovation for the Great Barrier Reef

Our panel of esteemed judges have awarded a winner. The People’s Choice Award winner will be announced soon!

               

Coral Maker – using 3D printing and robotics to mass produce live coral for restoration

Taryn Foster

Coral Maker – using 3D printing and robotics to mass produce live coral for restoration

Country: Australia

Taryn Foster

Due to climate change and other human disturbances, coral reef ecosystems are currently more vulnerable than ever. How we act collectively regarding emissions reductions over the next 5-10 years will determine their fate. However, in addition to cutting emissions, we need to look to new technologies to buy time for coral reefs, by both protecting them and boosting their recovery. Currently, reef restoration efforts produce tens of thousands of adult-sized corals per year. However, the number of corals required for reef scale restoration is in the order of tens of millions per year. It’s clear that current restoration techniques are way off the target in terms of scale. This idea tackles the upscaling issue by automating current restoration techniques via 3D printing and robotics technology. The initial aim of this project is to provide proof of concept, including; developing designs, prototypes and processes, that can be upscaled to mass produce live, adult-sized corals.

Coral Probiotics – Beneficial Microorganisms for Corals

Raquel Peixoto

Coral Probiotics – Beneficial Microorganisms for Corals

Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; UCDavis, California; Rio de Janeiro Marine Aquarium, Brazil

Country: Brazil

Raquel Peixoto

This innovative approach combines the latest technology developments in a range of fields including pharmaceuticals, aquaculture, agriculture and food science. We can predict some large-scale climate change events such as coral bleaching. However, there is currently no scaled treatment available to protect corals from its adverse effects.

We recently proposed that the use of probiotics could aid our efforts to improve global change impacts on coral reefs. This concept stems from the more established practices on humans and agriculture. Initial results indicated that the addition of BMCs represents a promising approach to prevent bleaching in temperature stressed and pathogen challenged corals over a finely controlled aquarium experiment. Here we propose the use of probiotics to increase the resistance and resilience of coral reefs.

Changing behaviours to improve Great Barrier Reef health

John Pickering

Changing behaviours to improve Great Barrier Reef health

Behaviour Innovation

Country: Australia

John Pickering

Protecting the Great Barrier Reef is just as much about understanding people as it is understanding coral reef systems. The attitudes and behaviours of landholders are related to a number of the threats to the reef, including fine sediment entering the GBR lagoon off grazing land. Our concept involves understanding graziers’ psychological drivers and barriers to change and then using this information to design and test a scalable behaviour change program for significantly increasing the adoption of farming practices that predict better water quality and improved productivity.

As a partnership between Behaviour Innovation, AgForce and Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), this project is industry-led and leverages the learnings from Project Cane Changer, which provides the proof of concept upon which this concept is based. If successful, the concept will be the first time a population-level behaviour change program has been demonstrated to modify attitudes and practices of graziers across an entire community with benefits to landholders, the community, and the environment.

For more information, visit John’s website here

Challenge Winner

Restoring coral reefs on a grand scale – with Mega Spawn-Catchers, Larval Clouds and LarvalBot

Peter Harrison

Restoring coral reefs on a grand scale – with Mega Spawn-Catchers, Larval Clouds and LarvalBot

Marine Ecology Research Centre, Southern Cross University

Country: Australia

Peter Harrison

Coral reef matchmakers win innovation challenge

 

An out of the box idea to match-make coral and deliver new coral ‘babies’ using robotics onto the reef has won the Great Barrier Reef Foundation’s Out of the Blue Box Reef Innovation Challenge, securing $300,000 AUD (approx. $225,000 USD) to bring the idea to life.

 

The proposal to restore coral reefs on a grand scale is the brainchild of Southern Cross University’s Professor Peter Harrison and Queensland University of Technology’s Professor Matthew Dunbabin whose innovative concept was declared the winner from a short list of five finalists.

 

The concept is designed to be activated during the annual mass coral spawning event in November on the Great Barrier Reef when corals reproduce simultaneously in spectacular fashion.

 

Scientists will capture hundreds of millions of coral spawn from the corals that have survived the two recent mass coral bleachings, and rear them into baby corals in mass quantities inside large floating enclosures.

 

A new generation of robot will then play ‘stork’, delivering the tiny baby coral larvae out onto reefs.

 

Great Barrier Reef Foundation Managing Director Anna Marsden and The Tiffany & Co. Foundation Chairman and President Anisa Kamadoli Costa congratulated Prof. Harrison and Prof. Dunbabin on the project that has great potential to improve Reef recovery.

 

“The highly innovative project brings together the scientist who pioneered the coral IVF (larval reseeding) technique, with the robotics team that created RangerBot, the award-winning autonomous reef protector,” said Ms Marsden.

 

Their plan is to greatly increase the scale of coral spawn that can be leveraged during the Reef’s annual mass coral spawning event and to rear of hundreds of millions of larvae, or baby corals, that will be settled back out on damaged areas of the northern Great Barrier Reef starting in 2018.

 

This new upscaling approach will allow up to a 100-times increase in the number of coral babies produced as well as better targeting to settle them onto the reefs that most need them.

 

The result will be a much-needed boost to restore coral reefs on a large scale and speed up the recovery of ecosystems that have been hard hit by coral bleaching and other impacts.

 

Ms Marsden added, “The recent IPCC report has reinforced there is a closing window of opportunity for the world to act on climate change and the sharp threat facing coral reefs globally.

 

“Our increasingly changing climate underscores the urgent need to fund the next generation of ideas that give our coral reefs a fighting chance and this is exactly what this challenge aims to achieve with the support of The Tiffany & Co. Foundation and partners The University of Queensland and SecondMuse.”

 

The winning idea has the potential to immediately impact the health of corals across the Great Barrier Reef but also has potential application for coral reefs globally.

 

The Tiffany & Co. Foundation Chairman and President, Anisa Kamadoli Costa said, “As part of our support for conservation efforts, the Out of the Blue Box Reef Innovation Challenge aims to kickstart and accelerate novel solutions from around the world to bolster the Great Barrier Reef’s long-term resilience.”

 

“The Tiffany & Co. Foundation has supported coral conservation worldwide for nearly two decades and we are thrilled to be supporting new ideas to conserve coral reefs—innovators such as the Challenge winners are a reason for hope to preserve these precious ecosystems for future generations.”

 

The Tiffany & Co. Foundation’s support for the Challenge was made possible through a grant to The University of Queensland in America Inc.

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