Researchers Preparing to Electrify the Great Barrier ReefMarie Donlon | September 25, 2018
Hoping to repair damage to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia caused by coral bleaching and other factors, researchers are exploring whether or not electricity might accelerate its growth.
A team from Reef Ecologic is exploring a scheme that involves passing electricity through steel frames to stimulate the growth of the reef — the same method already tested in the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia.
According to a 2015 BBC Future explanation of the process, “A low-voltage direct current is run through the steel. This electricity interacts with the minerals in the seawater and causes solid limestone to grow on the structure. It draws on the principles of electrolysis, where the electric current causes a chemical reaction to occur which wouldn’t have otherwise.”
The method is currently under trial at a segment of the Great Barrier Reef located 60 miles north of Cairns — a region “badly affected by the 2016 and 2017 mass coral bleaching events.”
Researchers believe that coral bleaching events, where warmer temperatures turn coral white, can take decades to undo naturally. As such, the method currently being trialed has proven successful in the past and without harm to humans or marine organisms.