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Science
FRONTIERS
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Monday 21:00-21:30
Frontiers explores new ideas in science, meeting the researchers who see the world through fresh eyes and challenge existing theories - as well as hearing from their critics. Many such developments create new ethical and moral questions and Frontiers is not afraid to consider these.
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Listen to 26 May
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Monday 26 May 2008
Close up of coral spawning in plastic box in laboratory
Coral spawning in laboratory

Coral Reef Restoration

Andrew Luck-Baker sets sail for the Pacific island archipelago of Palau to witness one of nature’s greatest spectacles: the mass spawning of the coral reefs. Palau is home to one of the most diverse and spectacular coral reef systems on the planet.

Each year, by the light of the spring full moon, the corals release their eggs and sperm into the warm tropical water, in their bid to reproduce. What makes this event so amazing is that they do it on nearly the same night each year, and almost all at exactly at the same time.

The reefs of Palau are in fairly good shape, for the time being.  However, the same cannot be said for many coral reefs around the world.

Climate change, pollution from the land, and intensive and destructive fishing practices have left many coral reefs severely damaged and in grave danger.

Andrew joins Andrew Heyward from the Australian Institute of Marine Science and James Guest from the University of Newcastle, as well as researchers from the Philippines, California and Palau itself, in their bid to try and restore some of our most threatened coral reefs.

Using the mass spawning event in Palau, their research is looking at ways of collecting the eggs and sperm released, cultivating the larvae, and then literally “seeding” degraded reefs.

Their hope is to give these wonderful ecosystems a better chance to re-grow and replenish, but with the growing threat of climate change, will their efforts simply be too little too late?
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