Marine scientists gathered with Traditional Custodians on Woppaburra sea Country this week for an ambitious field event during the annual mass coral spawning on the Great Barrier Reef.
The expedition, led by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), advanced understanding of how to help fast-track reef recovery and trained participants in coral aquaculture techniques to help them manage sea country in the future.
Over 40 people were involved in the event at North Keppel Island (also known as Konomie by the Woppaburra people) near Yeppoon.
The science team were based on a bespoke floating laboratory – a car barge turned into a science facility. The vessel holds research aquaria systems to support investigations on coral spawning and coral seeding
The on-sea Country spawning event is part of the Woppaburra Coral Project, a component within the Australian Coral Reef Resilience Initiative (ACRRI), a research partnership between AIMS and BHP.
Dr Carly Randall, AIMS ecologist and lead of the Woppaburra Coral Project said the expedition was an exciting step for both science and the empowerment of the local Traditional Custodians, who are building skills and capacity to help look after sea Country.
“Mass coral spawning happens just once a year in this region. It is a spectacular but narrow window of opportunity for coral reefs to recover after disturbances such as severe coral bleaching or cyclones,” Dr Randall said.
“We have been thrilled to work with the Woppaburra Traditional Custodians in this research this week. Coral seeding is a promising approach to help accelerate reef recovery both here on the Great Barrier Reef and around the world. The techniques we are researching and refining may one day, if needed, enable Traditional Custodians to look after their sea Country.”
AIMS scientists and Woppaburra Traditional Custodians shared the opportunity with national and international science collaborators, and representatives from BHP.
This event was one of the largest science and knowledge-sharing field exercises hosted by AIMS in its 50-year history. Land base activities were also held at the Konomie Environmental Education Centre