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Diversity in the deep

New research pours cold water on the idea that warmer climates lead to more diversity of species. Museums Victoria studied deep sea brittle starfish they collected while on board the research vessel Investigator. Species are actually evolving fastest in the coldest waters in the world – Antarctica.

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Interronauts: The CSIRO podcast

Ep 23: Cat food vs. big-headed ants, autonomous cave bots, Elizabeth and Fast Radio Bursts, and bye bye for now

This episode Jesse and Harry talk ants and tech: our phenomenally successful eradication of African big-headed ants from Lord Howe Island. They also chat about autonomous cave-exploring droids and speak with star researcher Dr Elizabeth Mahony about interstellar radio explosions.

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Video

[Music plays and CSIRO logo and text appears on a blue screen: RECRUIT Recovery of Reefs Using Industrial Techniques]

[Image appears of a reef on the ocean floor and then the image changes to show fish swimming through coral]

Russ Babcock: Because the reef has been affected by things like leaching and cyclones over quite large areas it’s not going to be enough in the future to just help one part of a reef recover that’s been damaged.

[Image changes to show Russ Babcock talking to the camera on a ship with the ocean in the background and text appears: Russ Babcock, Senior Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO]

We’re going to have to take larvae from up in the northern part of the reef for example to the central region, or from the central region to the southern region because whole swathes of reef have been affected and there may not be coral left there that we can use to kick start this type of recovery.

[Images move through of a crane to delivering equipment from a small boat to a male on the ship, a male securing a sling, an aerial view of the ship, and a male pumping water into tanks on the ship]

Christopher Doropoulos: So, we’re out here to try and collect some coral spawn slicks, capture those, and then pump them onto our vessel into our massive aquaculture set up that we’ve got going.

[Image changes to show the coral spawning and then the image changes to show Christopher Doropoulos talking to the camera on the deck of a ship and text appears: Christopher Doropoulos Research Scientist, CSIRO]

Corals generally spawn once a year and for a couple of hours for one or two nights. My main concern was about whether we would even find a coral spawn slick. We found those in the hugest abundance I’ve ever seen in my life.

[Images move through to show an aerial view of an ocean spawn slick, a male looking into a microscope in a laboratory, two males working in a laboratory, and a male testing coral density]

So, in the laboratory on the ship and on land we’re checking for competency and we’re also checking how dense the corals are and how well they’re surviving.

[Image changes to show men operating a crane off the side of the ship, and then the image changes to show an aerial view of the ship]

Russ Babcock: We’ve found that the density of larvae in slicks is at least a thousand times higher than has previously been recorded in the literature.

[Image changes to show Russ talking to the camera while standing on the ship’s deck]

So, that means that it’s going to be potentially easier to get the number of larvae that we need to do this work.

[Images move through to show a male engineer working at his computer, a male crew member working, two male ecologists standing over a tank testing samples, and Chris talking to the camera]

Christopher Doropoulos: We had engineers, we had the crew of the ship, we had ourselves as ecologists all coming together in a partnership to actually scale this up and make it work effectively.

[Image changes to show an aerial view of males working on the ship and the camera pans in a clockwise direction over the ship’s deck]

Russ Babcock: We’ve shown that we can harvest natural slicks after coral spawning.

[Image changes to show three male ecologists testing coral samples in a laboratory]

We’ve shown that they can be pumped on board the vessel and they’ll survive and we’ve shown that they’re able to grow and develop to the point where they’re able to settle back on the reef.

[Images move through to show aerial views of the ship, three males operating a crane from the side of ship, a male pumping water into tanks, and then Russ talking to the camera]

And because we can get these larvae on board a vessel we can transport them from one end of the reef to the other which is what we really need to achieve if we’re going to be successful in protecting the reef.

[Music plays and text appears on a white screen: Project collaborators, Van Oord, Delft University of Technology, Special acknowledgements, Pacific Tugs, Hidrostal Pumps, This project is funded by the Australian and Queensland Government through the Advance Queensland Small Business Innovation Research initiative]

[CSIRO logo and text appears: CSIRO, Australia’s innovation catalyst]

Repairing the reef

Our researchers are collaborating with marine engineers and ecologists to develop new technologies to collect and transfer coral spawn slicks across large distances using industrial scale techniques. The research has the potential to shift large amounts of health living coral spawn to areas of coral reef which have been affected by bleaching or other damage.

Watch more

[Music plays and CSIRO logo and text appears on a blue screen: RECRUIT Recovery of Reefs Using Industrial Techniques]

[Image appears of a reef on the ocean floor and then the image changes to show fish swimming through coral]

Russ Babcock: Because the reef has been affected by things like leaching and cyclones over quite large areas it’s not going to be enough in the future to just help one part of a reef recover that’s been damaged.

[Image changes to show Russ Babcock talking to the camera on a ship with the ocean in the background and text appears: Russ Babcock, Senior Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO]

We’re going to have to take larvae from up in the northern part of the reef for example to the central region, or from the central region to the southern region because whole swathes of reef have been affected and there may not be coral left there that we can use to kick start this type of recovery.

[Images move through of a crane to delivering equipment from a small boat to a male on the ship, a male securing a sling, an aerial view of the ship, and a male pumping water into tanks on the ship]

Christopher Doropoulos: So, we’re out here to try and collect some coral spawn slicks, capture those, and then pump them onto our vessel into our massive aquaculture set up that we’ve got going.

[Image changes to show the coral spawning and then the image changes to show Christopher Doropoulos talking to the camera on the deck of a ship and text appears: Christopher Doropoulos Research Scientist, CSIRO]

Corals generally spawn once a year and for a couple of hours for one or two nights. My main concern was about whether we would even find a coral spawn slick. We found those in the hugest abundance I’ve ever seen in my life.

[Images move through to show an aerial view of an ocean spawn slick, a male looking into a microscope in a laboratory, two males working in a laboratory, and a male testing coral density]

So, in the laboratory on the ship and on land we’re checking for competency and we’re also checking how dense the corals are and how well they’re surviving.

[Image changes to show men operating a crane off the side of the ship, and then the image changes to show an aerial view of the ship]

Russ Babcock: We’ve found that the density of larvae in slicks is at least a thousand times higher than has previously been recorded in the literature.

[Image changes to show Russ talking to the camera while standing on the ship’s deck]

So, that means that it’s going to be potentially easier to get the number of larvae that we need to do this work.

[Images move through to show a male engineer working at his computer, a male crew member working, two male ecologists standing over a tank testing samples, and Chris talking to the camera]

Christopher Doropoulos: We had engineers, we had the crew of the ship, we had ourselves as ecologists all coming together in a partnership to actually scale this up and make it work effectively.

[Image changes to show an aerial view of males working on the ship and the camera pans in a clockwise direction over the ship’s deck]

Russ Babcock: We’ve shown that we can harvest natural slicks after coral spawning.

[Image changes to show three male ecologists testing coral samples in a laboratory]

We’ve shown that they can be pumped on board the vessel and they’ll survive and we’ve shown that they’re able to grow and develop to the point where they’re able to settle back on the reef.

[Images move through to show aerial views of the ship, three males operating a crane from the side of ship, a male pumping water into tanks, and then Russ talking to the camera]

And because we can get these larvae on board a vessel we can transport them from one end of the reef to the other which is what we really need to achieve if we’re going to be successful in protecting the reef.

[Music plays and text appears on a white screen: Project collaborators, Van Oord, Delft University of Technology, Special acknowledgements, Pacific Tugs, Hidrostal Pumps, This project is funded by the Australian and Queensland Government through the Advance Queensland Small Business Innovation Research initiative]

[CSIRO logo and text appears: CSIRO, Australia’s innovation catalyst]

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