‘Hot’ coral on the brink
HEAT tolerant corals collected from the Far North are expected to start spawning in a Townsville laboratory in coming days.
Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) researchers are still awaiting the much-anticipated reproductive cycle of coral colonies flown to its facility at Townsville from the Far North last month.
The first of nine different species of branching coral (Acropora tenuis) began spawning in the AIMS' National Sea Simulator on Friday night, four days after the full moon.
A team of up to 30 staff and scientists at the National Sea Simulator are working through the night to oversee about 130 coral colonies, which are due to spawn inside the oceanic simulator over the next week.
AIMS researcher Dr Line Bay said the surviving Far Northern "heat tolerant" coral from the worst heat-effected region of the GBR was expected to spawn in the SeaSim in coming days.
"We are investigating whether the offspring of the bleaching survivors from warm waters of the Far Northern GBR are more stress tolerant than young from the cooler central GBR," she said.
"This research will test whether these offspring may fare better in a changing climate."
Pro Dive Cairns General Manager Paul Lim said spawning had also taken place locally on Thursday night.
"Flynn Reef was more active than Milln Reef, and that was the same as what happened on November as well," he said.
"We don't run specific coral spawning trips, but we had three boats that happened to be out there for normal scheduled trips so that would have been a bonus."
This year is a split spawning year with about 200,000 coral larvae from last month's spawning successfully settling on to special plates at the National Sea Simulator, and 5,000,000 coral larvae were cultured.