As coral reefs worldwide decline due to climate change, severe storm events and coral disease, the Great Barrier Reef Legacy team have decided it is time for groundbreaking action to help preserve our reefs. Current approaches to securing the health and biodiversity of corals are not working, and with each coral bleaching event we are losing vulnerable coral species and reefs around the world. Therefore, GBR Legacy have officially partnered with Corals of the World and Cairns Marine to safeguard the biodiversity of all known hard coral species by creating the worlds first living coral biobank.
Our plan is to collect and house all 800 hard coral species from around the world in a state of the art holding facility in Port Douglas, creating a ‘coral ark’ to maintain the living biodiversity of corals and their algal and bacterial symbionts before it’s too late. The project will also use public aquariums and home aquarium collectors to hold and maintain backup fragments all over the world, creating the largest collaborative preservation network of corals.
Due to their unique life history, corals are one of the few groups of organisms on earth that can be kept alive indefinitely because most form colonies that are able to grow for thousands of years. The Living Coral Biobank is therefore the perfect solution for safegaurding the the genetic diversity of corals and their associated algal symbionts. This project will ensure that we can keep corals alive until conditions in their natural environment improve.
Our project collaboratos are key to the success of this project, bringing expertise vital to the successful collection, housing and survival of these corals. Corals of the World Director and project partner, the “godfather of coral” Dr Charlie Veron has discovered over 20% of the world's coral species, and is one of few people worldwide that can identify corals to species level underwater. Industry project partner Cairns Marine has over 40 years in the aquarium trade, and is known as a world leader in successfully collecting, transporting and caring for corals in aquaria.
We are working closely with traditional owners in Cairns and Port Douglas, inviting collaboration with all 72 clan groups along the Great Barrier Reef. It will also bring together leading scientists, Reef managers, industry experts, community partners and the general public and act as a catalyst to implement a simple and innovative solution to one of the world’s most pressing environmental issues. We have also recieved significant support from the Douglas Shire Council, which has donated the use of a prime land parcel for the coral housing facility.
We may not have all the answers for how to save coral reefs, but this project is an extremely cost effective and achievable undertaking that allows us to at least start to secure a better future for coral survival. We invite everyone to be involved, collaborate and help fund this project, as the future of the Great Barrier Reef and world’s corals are at stake.