The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is the largest living thing on Earth. You can see it from outer space. It has over 600 types of coral and countless species of marine life.
And it’s dying.
However, thanks to a new invention on the block it may now be possible to shield the reef from the harmful effects of climate change!
The delicate eco-system has been under threat for decades due to pollution and rising sea temperature levels. Warmer water means coral is bleached as it can’t survive the heat and many sea creatures, like turtles, are on the high risk list as they struggle to adapt to the changes. Australians are passionate about saving the reef, but without a time machine, there’s only the hope of preventing further damage: enter the ‘sun shield’.
An ambitious new invention by scientists from the University of Melbourne may just be the answer to reducing the problems facing the reef. It’s basically a giant umbrella made of super thin calcium carbonate that will act as a barrier between the sun and reef. The shield sits on top of the water and can absorb light by up to 30%. It’s 50,000 times thinner than a human hair and the initial tests have seen promising results in keeping the water cool enough for coral to survive.
Trials to test the new shield on high risk areas of the reef that are already seeing the effects of bleaching are hoping to start in the near future. Massive parts of the 348,000sqm reef died in 2016 and the race to turn back the clock has started. Considering the natural wonder brings in a cool $56 billion AUD in tourism dollars every year and it’s a stunning piece of ocean with thousands of species of fish, sea life and corals, we reckon it’s worth trying anything we can to save it.
Want to see the Great Barrier Reef up close yourself? We have some epic snorkelling trips Down Under! Check them out here.