GRAND PLAN: Professor Peter Harrison, director of SCU’s Marine Ecology Research Centre, has spent years studying how to restore reefs to their former glory.
GRAND PLAN: Professor Peter Harrison, director of SCU’s Marine Ecology Research Centre, has spent years studying how to restore reefs to their former glory.

Lismore professor works to turn the tide on coral

MORE than 60% of the world's coral reefs are in peril, but the work of a Lismore researcher could turn the tide.

Professor Peter Harrison, director of Southern Cross University's Marine Ecology Research Centre, and his research team have been restoring coral reefs using mass larval reseeding techniques.

After a successful three year pilot program in the Philippines, the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research expressed its confidence in Prof Harrison's work by way of a $1.2 million grant.

The professor's optimistic his groundbreaking research, which has been on the cards since 1981, will showcase its full potential, and provide a lifeline to the world's biggest structure made by living organisms - the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland.

"I've been working on the reseeding of coral for over 30 years," Prof Harrison said.

"I've been able to grow larvae in many locations, so I bring that experience to the project. I came up with ideas about expanding our laboratory experiments to the field ... to show if you have the right conditions you can get this done.

"It's a combination of experience and good luck."

Prof Harrison said the urgency of reef restoration research sped up in recent years due to mass bleaching of coral worldwide.

"What we're trying to do is repair reefs quickly enough so they can bounce back and reverse the trend overall," he said.

"We've shown if you put enough juvenile corals into the reef system, yes, some will die, but enough survive."



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