Protecting Coral Reefs with Floating FilmS. Himmelstein | March 27, 2018
While most environmental researchers are busy devising ways to remove plastics and other man-made materials from the world’s oceans, scientists at the Great Barrier Reef Foundation in Australia are intent on putting an anthropogenic material in. The thin surface film is designed to improve coral reef viability.
The biodegradable "sun shield,’" 50,000 times thinner than a human hair, sits on the water surface above the corals, rather than directly on the corals, to provide an effective barrier against the sun and prevent bleaching. The one molecule-thick material contains calcium carbonate, the same compound used by corals to build their skeletal structures.
Testing on seven different coral species in simulated coral bleaching event conditions demonstrated light reductions of up to 30 percent and reduced bleaching.
The floating film is not yet ready for wide-scale deployment. Additional refinements are needed prior to use on a local level to protect high-value or high-risk areas of reef.