Eradicate destructive reef pests and grow healthy, new coral
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure on earth – its size vital to its resilience.
Extending more than 2,900km along the Queensland coast, the reef’s size also presents logistical and fiscal challenges for large-scale restoration and monitoring.
Crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks continue to have a detrimental impact on the reef. There is urgent need to actively intervene to boost the reef’s capacity to recover.
In 2015, QUT roboticists developed the world’s first robot designed to monitor and control the crown-of-thorns starfish population on the Great Barrier Reef. These thorny starfish are voracious predators responsible for an estimated 40 per cent of the reef’s total decline in coral cover.
RangerBot is a state-of-the-art autonomous underwater robot proven to detect and kill crown-of-thorns starfish. It works safely without damaging the reef.
A sister project, LarvalBot, has been developed to support the regeneration of bleached and degraded reefs through distributing coral larvae – fertilised via innovative ‘coral IVF’ techniques. When distributed by the LarvalBot at optimal times these tiny ‘coral babies’ settle onto damaged reefs and grow to restore healthy coral populations.
Most corals reproduce once a year by simultaneously releasing billions of coral eggs and sperm which then fertilise to form tiny larvae. Within a couple of days, the larvae are ready to grow and settle onto available reef substrate, but only a tiny fraction of the larvae grow into mature coral colonies. LarvalBot has the potential to support an exponential increase in the settlement and growth of new healthy coral.
With your help, we can tackle reef issues and speed up the recovery of the Great Barrier Reef.
Your gift will help:
- develop technology and processes to restore the Great Barrier Reef to a healthy ecosystem
- build and deploy more RangerBots to control the crown-of-thorns starfish population
- advance research to optimise LarvalBot to accelerate coral reef growth and restoration through the distribution of coral larvae soon after mass coral spawning
- enable active monitoring and data collection of the reef for early detection of trends and changes and inform assessment of key threats and future risks
- preserve one of the world's most spectacular natural treasures for future generations.