Wavelength has free spaces available to help researchers to access the outer reef for field studies. If you are a researcher and wish to inquire about the feasibility of a particular project contact us.
Wavelength has a research partnership with A/Prof Dave Suggett and Dr Emma Camp at University of Technology Sydney, Future Reefs Program. The objective is studying the optimisation of coral propagation specific to GBR conditions. This research project started in February 2018 following on from a June 2017 National Geographic funded expedition on Wavelength 5 searching for corals in extreme habitats on the GBR. It is ongoing but has also now led to the development of the Coral Nurture Program which is aimed at enabling a coordinated and scientific approach to up-scaling coral planting for the purposes of localised stewardship and adaptation.
In the last 20 years or so there has been an ever increasing interest in coral reef rehabilitation at many locations around the world. Despite this, the total area of rehabilitated reefs worldwide stands at about only 22 hectares. The cost and difficulties of up-scaling coral rehabilitation mean it is not suitable as an alternative to action to protect reefs.
The costs of rehabilitating a damaged reef are vastly higher than preventing the damage in the fist place, and the solution is unlikely to be as good as the original. However, if improvements can be made to the efficiency and cost effectiveness of coral propagation it can potentially be useful on a local scale and can also be a very important tool in researching coral resilience and adaptation.
Each coral reef region has specific circumstances and potential obstacles for reef rehabilitation. Historically the approach on the the GBR has been to manage the factors that affect coral resilience, like fishing pressure and water quality, and rely on natural recovery from impacts such as cyclones. This approach has changed somewhat since the 2016 and 2017 bleaching events with an increased interest in researching potential interventions to help recovery from major environmental impacts and adaptation to climate change.
Wavelength Reef Cruises developed a new coral planting method in 2017 called Coralclip © which is being tested during an ongoing Australian/Queensland Government funded research project in partnership with UTS. So far 10,400 coral fragments have been out-planted.
The clip replaces cement or epoxy adhesive to make out-planting of coral fragments or larval seeding units faster and more convenient.
This means that it is becoming viable for coral planting to be part of ongoing stewardship and adaptation at high value sites. The clips securely hold a small fragment of coral so that it’s tissue rapidly grows and self attaches to the reef within one to two months. The objective is not reef restoration, but by making use of scientific knowledge about population genetics and heat tolerance, to plant more naturally occurring heat tolerant corals to increase a site’s resilience.
During the coral spawning in November 2018 Wavelength spent 10 days at Opal Reef and successfully collected 400,000 coral eggs and fertilised them on board before releasing 300,000 back to the water.
The remaining 100,000 were reared in tanks on board the vessel through embryogenisis to become larvae that were settled on larval seeding units which were out-planted.
The larval rearing was successful, but low post-settlement survival occurred due to fish grazing and algal competition, possibly made worse by record rainfall. Because of this higher risk with larval rearing we are currently focusing research on fragment propagation. This has an advantage in that it can be done year round and the whole holobiont is passed to the new coral.
Wavelength crew also undertake independent research. Lorna is currently working on her PhD with UTS and Callum is working on his Masters thesis with Flinders University.
Suggett, DJ, Edmondson, J, Howlett, L, Camp, EF (2019) Coralclip®: a low‐cost solution for rapid and targeted out‐planting of coral at scale. Restoration Ecology. View/Download from: Publisher’s site
The Eye on the Reef program is one of the best ways to get involved in helping monitor the health of the reef. The basic level of survey is Rapid Monitoring, which passengers can learn to do quite quickly. Our crew carry out Tourism Weekly Monitoring, and also the more complex surveys which are Reef Health and Impact Surveys (RHIS). It’s possible to get trained up to undertake these surveys and contribute to knowledge of what’s happening on the reef. In addition, Eye on the Reef has an App which works along side its Sightings Network to be able to log significant creature or event sightings, including Crown of Thorns starfish occurrence.
Our full day snorkel tours visit three outer reef sites, each day. The skipper picks these on the day, from our wide selection of exclusive outer reef moorings. Our aim is to show you the best reef, and the diversity of reef types.More Info
Wavelength employs qualified marine biologists as crew, in order to offer a high level of interpretation of the Great Barrier Reef. They provide guided snorkel tours and reef talks.More Info
© Wavelength Reef Cruises 2020