Science

Soon, a cling film will wrap the Great Barrier Reef to prevent environmental degradation

Soon, a cling film will wrap the Great Barrier Reef to prevent environmental degradation

Scientists have been warning against the depleting corals at the Great Barrier Reef located in Australia for a long time now. Now, scientists have come up with an interesting ‘film’ which is literally a film that will be adorned above the coral reef to protect it from sunlight and global warming-related issues such as increasing global temperature. We are talking about an ultra-fine biodegradable film which is 50,000 times thinner than a human hair and it is touted as the measure to counter environmental degradation.

The Great Barrier Reef is a world heritage site and a hugely popular tourist spot where millions of people visit the magnificent coral reef. However, due to increasing global sea temperature, the coral reef that makes up the reef are bleaching and have undergone damage through decades of drastic environmental changes.  There are some regions in the Great Barrier Reef that have been enlisted as endangered or at high-risk which sparked discussion across the globe. A team of scientists at the Australian Institute of Marine Biology headed by scientists who gave the country its polymer bank notes have performed trails of the ‘sun shield’ which is a biodegradable film that will prevent the incidence of direct sunlight by over 30%.

Scientists stated that the film will be placed above the coral reefs and not on it. The film is made up of calcium carbonate which is the material found within the coral reefs that will act as a barrier against the sun protecting the corals and lower the overall temperature. The researchers performed trails on seven times of corals and found out favorable results that the film successfully decreasing the process of bleaching by lowering the sunlight by 30% in most of the corals.

According to Anna Marsden, M.D. at the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the idea behind this film is to reduce the levels of sunlight that will, in turn, reduce the levels of stress among the corals and protect it from bleaching. Australia is a large country located in the Pacific Ocean, however, its small population and relatively higher usage of coal-fired power have entitled it as one of the worst per capita greenhouse gas polluters in the world.

Apart from sunlight, the corals are also threatened by farming and predatory-coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish. Speaking about the biodegradable film, it will be difficult to cover an entire 216,000 square mile of the region covered by the reef, however, scientists can still install it in the high-risk and high-value regions that will protect at least that particular part of the reef.

Researchers are conducting further studies on the project and its prospects which needs a lot of work to be done before it can be deployed practically. Deloitte Access Economics estimated the Great Barrier Reef as an asset worth Aus$56 billion which includes the revenue generated by tourism as well as an indirect value obtained from people who at least know about it. Scientists are aiming towards protecting the Great Barrier Reef future generations to come.

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