A RESEARCH breakthrough could mean the restoration and repair of reefs around the world, including our own Great Barrier Reef, and it all relies on hot, steamy, coral sex.
The project is led by Southern Cross University's Professor Peter Harrison, who has been working in the Philippines in an area of reef highly degraded by blast fishing.
"Degradation and loss of coral reefs around the world is among the most obvious examples of the damage humans have done to our planet. Our research shows that some reefs can be repaired," Professor Harrison said.
Professor Harrison's team grows millions of coral larvae in tanks, and then delivers them onto the reefs in large underwater mesh tents.
"This research is globally significant. It's important for the reef areas we're working on in the Philippines, but also important to the future of other damaged coral reefs including the Great Barrier Reef," Prof Harrison said.
"What we have proven is that microscopic coral larvae can settle and grow as colonies to the size of dinner plates within three years, and be able to sexually reproduce at this early age. This is the first study that has successfully re-established a breeding coral population from coral larvae."