Could ‘super corals’ be a game changer for Great Barrier Reef?


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A groundbreaking search for the ‘super corals’ of the Great Barrier Reef will be launched aboard the M.Y Flying Fish vessel (pictured) by GBR Legacy. IMAGE: Supplied.
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GREAT Barrier Reef Legacy will launch a groundbreaking 21 day expedition from Port Douglas next week searching for the ‘super corals’ of the worst hit parts of the regions reef.

The research trip is the not-for-profit organisation's first since it was established last year through reef legend John Rumney and marine biologist Dr Dean Miller.

GBR Legacy’s aim was to bring together some of the world’s leading researchers, tourism experts, educators, citizen scientists and media in a collaborative approach hoping to set a new standard for how reef research projects are funded and conducted.

Rumney, who will lead the maiden expedition, said data and findings from the trip to the Far North reef - the most affected by back-to-back coral bleaching events - would be provided directly to the public. 

“This expedition is about resilience. The reef isn't just coral, it's a community; a vast variety of life that coral supports,” he said.

“This three week expedition is searching for the toughest of the lot.”

Australian rock legends Midnight Oil are just one of the many backers of the project, made possible though crowd-funding, individual donations, small-business support and Northern Escape Collection.

Aboard the Port Douglas based M.Y. Flying Fish vessel, Dr Miller said researchers would try to answer how, why and where certain sections of coral and reef survived the bleaching events of 2016 and 2017.

“Unique in reef research, this collaborative approach will allow a comprehensive examination of the same sites on the same days by some of the best researchers in the world, something that rarely happens due to limited funding opportunities and of course access to these remote regions for large research teams,” he said.

“This is a hurdle GBR Legacy has managed to overcome for the scientists through their creative funding model.”

The interdisciplinary team will examine all aspects of coral reef health and changes, map shallow reef areas, and examine the overall effect of the bleaching event.

“We have sought out the absolute leaders in the field for understanding how coral reefs respond to major stresses, and how we can start to think about mitigating these problems as we move forward," Dr Miller said.

"The information we gather during this expedition will be of relevance for the entire GBR Marine Park and coral reefs worldwide, and is great interest to all."

A documentary will be filmed about the voyage, with a public symposium scheduled for Port Douglas on December 8. 

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