Might it be possible to restore the damaged Great Barrier Reef to its former glory using electricity?
Heatwaves, cyclones and humanities own environmental missteps have all damaged the Great Barrier Reef. Changes in climate mean that once rare coral bleaching events are now predicted to occur every five years.
Environmental Conservation group Reef Ecologic hope to turn the tide and are leading a trial to regrow surviving coral fragments on steel frames.
The idea is simple. Frames are placed on the parts of the reef that are damaged. The frame is them stimulated with electricity. This, in turn, accelerates coral growth.
The technique has been used previously. Projects in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and in South-East Asia have all shown that the electrically charged frames help attract mineral deposits which can help coral grow at 3-to-4 times its normal rate.
The trial will take place on an area of reef 100k north of Cairns in Queensland, Australia. The area was particularly badly affected by the 2016 mass coral bleaching event.
While coral is beginning to grow naturally, the team hope to accelerate the recovery of the reef. Even if the technique is successful it will take at least a decade for the fastest growing coral to recover.
If the method does prove successful the team at Reef Ecologic hope it can be used to help reefs survive bleaching events in future.
Find out more at reefecologic.org