Which corals survive mass bleaching events?

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A Tropical Water Quality Hub research project led by Dr Line Bay at the Australian Institute for Marine Science is focused on the genetic characteristics of corals that have survived bleaching events. Dr Bay and her team have been collecting corals from the northern Great Barrier Reef (GBR) for two years with the support of GBR Legacy. At the National Sea Simulator facility near Townsville, they are cross-breeding the northern corals with others from the central section of the GBR. The team has been investigating how young corals derived from northern GBR corals react to conditions similar to the central GBR – such as survival rates in cooler but warming water. Preliminary results indicate that corals from warmer waters have a higher thermal tolerance, but bleaching events damage that resilience. This subject was discussed in presentations at the Great Barrier Reef Restoration Symposium in July, which TWQ Hub played a major role in hosting.

Photo: AIMS/Neal Cantin