The Great Barrier Reef is getting Some Robotic Assistance

June 26, 2020
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Our oceans are in trouble, which means we are in trouble since oceans absorb a significant amount of CO2 and support a huge amount of economic activity. That being said, they have absorbed enough carbon to send the pH levels soaring and begin a process called “ocean acidification.” Which truthfully sounds like an evil plot from a bad James Bond villain.

However, it’s serious business, when coral reefs become stressed they expel the symbiotic algae that lives on them, leading to “coral bleaching.” This bleaching makes them susceptible to deadly diseases. In recent years, over half the coral in the Great Barrier Reef has died off.

Coral itself protects coastlines from waves, is home to some of the world’s highest biodiversity, and is a spawning ground for hundreds of organisms. We may lose all of these things if coral populations continues to decline.

However, human innovation is not limited to dastardly deeds and making ever more bizarre forms of transportation.

Two Australian universities have teamed up to create a new Pixar-worthy underwater robot… Larvalbot.

The Larvalbot captures and grows coral spawn, using them to then repopulate damaged reefs. On top of this, researchers are 3-D printing “coral parents” to create new colonies and generate waves of new life, all delivered by the bot.

The plan is to mass-produce reef restoration in a team-up between universities, companies, and individuals to give this great ecosystem a second chance. So far, Larvalbot has delivered over 100,000 baby coral reefs to the ocean, and counting.

We may have a long road ahead to shepherd the planet back to health, but at least we know we can invent some companions to help along the way.

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