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Corals planted in Whitsunday waters

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CORAL NURTURE Program researchers, local tourism operators and volunteers have banded together to plant coral in the reefs surrounding the Whitsundays.

Vessels from Kiana Sail & Dive, Red Cat Adventures and Ocean Rafting took out the team of researchers and volunteers for Coralpalooza 2023.

Coralpalooza is a global day of collaborative action to help restore key reef sites and build resilience to climate change.

The Great Barrier Reef foundation said this year was the biggest event yet, as Australia joined the global effort for the first time, alongside 11 other countries.

Along key locations in the Great Barrier Reef, nine operator vessels took out a total of 56 divers to 13 different sites across the Whitsundays, Cairns and Port Douglas.

The goal was to plant 4,000 coral fragments. By the end of the day, in mid-June, they had collectively planted a whopping 6,726 fragments of coral.

“These amazing results could only be achieved because of the infectious passion shared above and below the surface,” a statement from the Great Barrier Reef Foundation said.

“This was a team in its element, from different backgrounds, skill sets and organisations but with one collective intent – to make a positive impact on the reef.

“Each coral fragment was planted using the innovative CoralClip – a Queensland invention that allows corals to be planted quickly and with good survival rates.

“There is an opportunity now for researchers to learn from this event – the first coordinated, intensive community effort to plant corals across multiple sites – to support ongoing capacity-building activities and research.”

Moving forward, Coral Nurture Program researchers, from the University of Technology Sydney, will monitor the sites where coral was planted and hope to better understand the impact that coral planting has on reefs and their marine life.

“This will help determine where and how to target our efforts to assist recovery at high-value reef locations in the future.”

Coralpalooza began in 2014 when the Coral Restoration Foundation first enlisted recreational divers for a day of large-scale coral restoration, in honour of World Oceans Day, in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

“Our participation in Coralpalooza 2023 is thanks to the dedicated support of thousands of school children around Australia, who have participated in colour runs to raise money for our reef through Australian School and Club Fundraising (ASCF),” a spokesperson said.

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