Robot delivery to help save Great Barrier Reef

LarvalBot disperses microscopic baby corals to help repopulate devastated areas of reef

An undersea robot developed by researchers from Southern Cross University and Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia will inject a new lease of life into the Great Barrier Reef. LarvalBot has delivered and dispersed microscopic baby corals (coral larvae) to devastated areas of the reef in order to aid repopulation.

"Using an iPad to programme the mission, a signal is sent to deliver the larvae and it is gently pushed out by LarvalBot. It's like spreading fertiliser on your lawn," said QUT professor Matthew Dunbabin.

“The robot is very smart, and as it glides along we target where the larvae need to be distributed so new colonies can form and new coral communities can develop.”

Following on from this trial, the researchers plan to go big and build huge spawn-catchers and solar-powered floating larval incubation pools that will house hundreds of millions of heat-tolerant coral larvae. These larvae will travel with LarvalBot to the damaged reefs where they will settle and repopulate.