Revealing climate change impacts on reef

Great barrier reef

Queensland Museum’s research into corals that live below the 30 metre mark is revealing some tantalising evidence about the impacts of climate change on Great Barrier Reef.

Recent developments in scientific diving and underwater robotics have enabled scientists to delve below the 30 metre mark for the first time, shining a light on this previously unexplored part of the reef.

Queensland Museum Principal Scientist Carden Wallace said these technologies are helping provide essential clues about the long-term survival of coral species that live in what is known as the ‘mesophotic zone’.

The research is giving scientists hope that some coral species affected by global warming, coral bleaching and increases in sea temperature might be able to survive in the mesophotic zone long after they have disappeared from shallower waters.

Gaining a better understanding of the reef, and preserving its diversity of organisms, is vital because of the wealth of scientific knowledge that is yet to be revealed about these species.

Corals have already been used for breakthroughs in medical science, and are being used for everything from bone tissue regrowth to neurosurgery.

Dr Wallace’s groundbreaking research is a collaboration between other scientists from Queensland Museum, James Cook University and The University of Queensland.

The outcomes of this research will be showcased publicly at the Museum of Tropical Queensland in upcoming programs and activities, thanks to the support of BHP Billiton Cannington.