Brought to you by Newscorp Australia

Coral transplants to boost reef health during quiet pandemic period

Peter Michael, June 7, 2020 7:00PM The Courier-Mail

Print Article

Man-made underwater coral nurseries are helping improve the health of the Great Barrier Reef. media_cameraMan-made underwater coral nurseries are helping improve the health of the Great Barrier Reef.


Reading level: green

Divers are growing and replanting coral in a million-dollar effort to restore* the glory of the Great Barrier Reef.

Man-made underwater nurseries, using fragments* of live coral attached by wire to rock, are helping to revitalise* some of the most popular tourist reefs off Cairns and Port Douglas.

While tours to the reef have been shutdown under COVID-19 restrictions, local operators like Passions of Paradise and reef scientists have been growing coral on frames and planting it with spectacular results at underwater sites at Hastings and Milne reefs.

About 1000 pieces of coral have been hand-planted by a team of scuba divers on Hastings Reef, about an hour by boat from Cairns.

media_cameraDivers collect coral samples on the Great Barrier Reef.

“When tours resume, passengers will be able to snorkel over the site which boasts healthy marine life and corals near the nursery,” said Passions of Paradise chief Scott Garden.

It is hoped the restoration project will improve the health of the Reef, which has been damaged by climate change, coral bleaching, cyclones, run-off and coral-eating Crown of Thorns starfish.

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation, which administers $444 million in federal funding, announced $1.7 million for the restoration project by local operators and research bodies.

The project is the latest effort to protect the Reef, which the foundation’s Anna Marsden said was experiencing its third coral bleaching event in five years after mass bleaching in 2016 and 2017.

Bleaching occurs when coral suffers heat stress due to spikes in sea temperatures caused by unusually hot summers.

Great Barrier Reef in Crisis

“The Cairns Port Douglas Reef Restoration Hub will play a key role in bringing together the innovative* science and hands-on solutions needed to build its resilience*,” Ms Marsden said.

“It’s only by working together that we will save our Reef and its precious* marine animals for future generations.”

Federal environment minister Sussan Ley said Australia was a world leader in reef science and reef management.

“Projects like the restoration hub will play another important role in protecting the Reef and the communities who depend on it,” Ms Ley said.


  • restore: return to its former condition
  • fragments: pieces
  • revitalise: give new life to
  • innovative: new and clever
  • resilience: ability to recover quickly
  • precious: very valuable


Painting clouds and other ideas to save our Reef

Drones deliver baby coral to save Reef

Great Barrier Reef outlook ‘very poor’


  1. What is the coral being grown on?
  2. How many pieces of coral have been planted at Hastings Reef?
  3. What causes coral bleaching?
  4. Name another cause of damage to the Reef.
  5. How much is being spent on the restoration project?


1. Reef threats
Identify the five causes of damage to the reef that are listed in this news story. Choose one of these causes to research and find out more about. Write an explanation of how this factor impacts the reef and what is or can be done to stop the damage. Draw a captioned picture to go with your explanation that gives additional or supporting detail.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Science

2. Extension
Design a print or radio advertisement to entice local tourists back to the Great Barrier Reef following COVID-19 restrictions. Think carefully about what to include that you think will appeal to potential visitors.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Science; Visual Arts/Drama

Down-Level It
When you up-level a sentence, you do things to it to improve it: make it more interesting, or more complex.

But sometimes, when we read something it can be too complex and we don’t understand it very well. You ask someone to explain it to you, they do (in a simpler way) and you think, well why didn’t they just say that?

 Go through the article and find a sentence or two that is complex, or hard to read.

Ask an adult what it means, or try and look some of the words up in the glossary.

Once you know what it means, see if you can re-write it in a simpler way- down-level it.

 Make sure you don’t change the meaning of the sentence in any way though.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Why would you like to visit the Great Barrier Reef?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

Extra Reading in environment