Thursday 18 October 2018

Sun shield to protect Great Barrier Reef

A handout photo from the Australian Institute of Marine Science shows live coral in sun shield trials. An ultra-fine biodegradable film some 50,000 times thinner than a human hair could be enlisted to battle degradation of the Great Barrier Reef. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
A handout photo from the Australian Institute of Marine Science shows live coral in sun shield trials. An ultra-fine biodegradable film some 50,000 times thinner than a human hair could be enlisted to battle degradation of the Great Barrier Reef. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Daniel Pearlman

Scientists in Australia have developed an ultra-thin "sun shield" that could float on the water in the Great Barrier Reef to protect coral from further bleaching.

Created from a biodegradable film that is 50,000-times thinner than a human hair, the shield is sprayed on to water and forms a white film, which keeps the water cooler and darker.

Scientists believe it could potentially help to prevent further bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest marine reserve, which has come under threat from warmer water temperatures and increasing ocean acidity.

Two bleaching events in 2016 and 2017 damaged an estimated two-thirds of the reef.

Anna Marsden, from the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, said: "The 'sun shield' is... completely biodegradable, containing the same ingredient corals use to make their hard skeletons - calcium carbonate.

"It's important to note that this is not intended to be a solution that can be applied over the whole 348,000 sq km of the Great Barrier Reef - that would never be practical.

"But it could be deployed on a smaller, local level to protect high value or high-risk areas of reef."

Irish Independent

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