Updated September 12, 2018 03:30:42The ‘sink-in-a-basket’ of a sea cucumbers that was created by Australian scientists has been revived as a prototype marine science project.
Key points:The project was launched by the Australian Marine Science Foundation in 2014 to investigate the role of the ocean’s corals and plankton in oceanic ecosystem functioningThe sea cucurbits will be planted in the Great Barrier Reef and a research station will be set upThe project has been described as the first successful attempt to create a sustainable marine habitat from scratchA project to plant a ‘sinking-in’-a-bag’ of sea cucurbs in the waters of the Great Australia Barrier Reef will be the first marine-based experiment ever undertaken.
The $400,000 project has already seen a $300,000 grant from the Australian Research Council and the $500,000 awarded by the Great Australian Biodiversity Fund.
The research was undertaken at the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Environmental Science, Fisheries and Aquaculture.
The ‘sea cucurbities’ are a series of corals growing in the deep sea and corals are part of a ‘nautilus’ community, and are an important part of the reef’s ecosystem.
Sea cucumbers are the only species of coral found on the Great Aussie Reef.
The project aims to establish a permanent marine habitat in the coral-rich waters of Australia’s Great Barrier Islands, where there is no coral to eat.
The scientists hope to create marine habitats that will provide the reef with a variety of species and help it survive changes in the ocean.
“The idea was to create an ecosystem that would help the coral to survive in the changing conditions,” said Dr James Tappin, from the Centre for Environment Research.
“This project was originally a research project to investigate how the corals function in the water, and now we’ve developed this model and we’re going to start doing some work on it to try and understand how that’s going to work.”
“It’s really important that we understand how these corals actually function in this water, because we don’t have any marine habitats in Australia to support these coralfishes.”
Sea cucurbites are part to a community called the nautilus, and coralfish larvae can be found in the coralline algae in the seawater.
The coral’s tentacles are covered with sponges that provide the plant with nutrients, which in turn help to make the sea cucumbys carbon-dioxide rich environment.
“It has been said by some scientists that corals don’t produce carbon dioxide,” Dr Tappon said.
“They can be a bit wasteful, but there’s also some really valuable things that they do.”
We’ve seen for instance that they can produce more carbon dioxide than the algae that we grow in our gardens.
“So that means they’re really good at capturing CO2 from the atmosphere and they can then release that carbon into the environment.
That’s a really valuable resource that’s very important in maintaining the environment.”
The team of researchers hope to find out more about the coralfishing’s ability to capture CO2 and how that affects the ecosystem, with a focus on the potential of the coral’s ability as an organic carbon sink.
“There are many species of coral that are also used as carbon sinks, and there are some that actually produce CO2, but not all of them do,” Dr Michael Stokes, from Australia’s National Marine Research Institute (NMRI), said.
The first sea cucurate to be planted, the first ever, is currently being developed in the Queensland town of Lismore.
The sea cucumber has been growing in an aquaculture tank in a greenhouse, and the researchers hope the plant will become a permanent part of its ecosystem.
“What we’ve found is that this species grows really well in a very small space, it can grow to be a lot bigger than that,” Dr Stokes said.
Scientists are now in the process of trying to develop a system to store the carbon, and a prototype in the aquarium is being designed to store up to 5 tonnes of carbon.
“I think the first one we’ll start with will probably be around 4 tonnes, and that’ll be the carbon that we’ll be using in the aquacultures for about a year,” Dr David Denton, from NMRI, said.”[But] the carbon we’re using is really going to depend on the type of system that we use.”
“There’s a lot of research going on, and hopefully the aquatics industry is going to help us develop some of the systems that we’re designing for the sea cukes.”
Sea Cucumber scientists will be launching a $400 million research project in the northern Great Barrier’s waters, to find the best ways to produce a