13th December 2017
Veteran marine biologist Charlie Veron is known as the ‘Godfather of Coral’ and it’s a title that is well-deserved when you consider that he’s named one fifth of all corals in the world. Clearly he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to coral and according to Dr Veron, there’s good news for the Great Barrier Reef thanks to the discovery of some ‘super corals’.
Having just returned from a coral locating mission on the Great Barrier Reef, Dr Veron discovered new evidence of some unusually resilient corals in the outer reefs that he and his research team hope will provide more time for coral reefs that have been impacted by climate change.
The three week expedition, which was funded by donations, allowed scientists to explore coral reefs in far north Queensland and was timed to coincide with annual coral spawning events, allowing researchers to collect spawn and eggs from healthy corals to be studied at Townsville’s Australian Institute of Marine Science.
The discovery of 66 coral species in one dive in an undisclosed location off the Lockhart River has given researchers hope that these corals can be used to help other regions recover. Dr Veron said he and his fellow divers discovered a reef "so diverse I'd never seen the likes of it" even after decades of research. "It was absolutely off the scale," he said.
Scientists hope to discover what made these corals so resilient despite recent bleaching events and eventually give nature a bit of a helping hand in the future. Director of science for Great Barrier Reef Legacy Dean Miller said that researchers "couldn't have expected any more" from the expedition. The private funding and diverse range of scientists onboard allowed the researchers to visit little studied regions of the far north, he said.
Plans are already being made for another expedition in May if the funds can be sourced.