The Washington DC Area Marine Aquarist Society (WAMAS) has donated $20,000 USD to the Great Barrier Reef Legacy Living Coral Biobank Project. Based in Port Douglas, Australia, the aim of the project is to safeguard the biodiversity of all known hard coral species by creating the world’s first Living Coral Biobank. Currently, there are over 132 species of corals in the biobank collection which represents just over 33% of the Great Barrier Reef hard coral species. The corals are identified by Dr. Charlie Veron and the plan is to collect up to 50% before the end of the year and eventually all 800 hard coral species from around the world in an effort to ark them, propagate them, and protect them for future generations.
Colonies are currently collected and kept in a dedicated holding facility with an 8,000 fragment capacity. With help from WAMAS, a second, larger, and publicly accessible facility at Cairns Aquarium is now underway. The new facility will be capable of housing another 12,000 live coral fragments with corals from both sites available for reef research and restoration efforts.
“We have been absolutely humbled by the support and generosity we are seeing from the US reef-keeping community, with everything from registering interest in looking after corals fragments within home and office tanks, to adopting individual coral fragments within our facility, and now with large donations such as that made by WAMAS,” says Dr. Dean Miller Managing Director of Great Barrier Reef Legacy and Project leader of the Living Coral Biobank Project.
“We are really excited to work with the reef-building community on what is quickly becoming one of the largest conservation efforts to save coral biodiversity on the Great Barrier Reef. It is through the blood sweat and tears and years of honing skills, expertise, and equipment by the reef-building community and industry that is making this possible.”
Tom Land is President of WAMAS, which has donated a staggering $90,000 to ocean conservation since 2015. “We are alarmed by the threat climate change poses to global reef ecosystems, Said Tom Land. “Solutions to safeguarding the biodiversity of these habitats is urgently required. The Great Barrier Reef Legacy team is doing excellent, innovative work that WAMAS is proud to support. We are very pleased and excited to be able to continue giving meaningful contributions to leading-edge reef-conservation programs such as the Living Coral Biobank project and for the new, larger facility in Cairns. And we hope that our donation can help lead the way to even greater support from reefing communities in North America.”
The new Cairns Aquarium facility is a state-of-the-art, yet, an off-the-shelf, system that will be replicated in locations all around the world where corals need to be conserved.