Aussie Scientists Freezing Coral to Protect them From Climate Change

Essay by Eric Worrall

Coral survived the dinosaur killer, the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum, and the Quaternary Glaciation. But apparently we must spend millions on cryo-storage to protect coral from anthropogenic climate change.

Freezing Great Barrier Reef coral could be a ‘game-changer’ against the threat of climate change

Scientists working on the Great Barrier Reef have successfully trialled a new method for freezing and storing coral larvae, which they believe could help rewild reefs threatened by climate change.

Key points:

  • Cryogenically frozen coral can be stored and later reintroduced to the wild
  • Scientists say a new lightweight “cryomesh” can be manufactured cheaply
  • The technology could be a “game-changer” and help restore the reefs in the future, researchers believe

The reef has suffered four bleaching events in the last seven years, including the first-ever bleach during a La Niña phenomenon, which typically brings cooler temperatures.

Mary Hagedorn, a senior research scientist at the Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, said it was a “game-changer”. 

“If we can secure the biodiversity of coral … then we’ll have tools for the future to really help restore the reefs and this technology for coral reefs in the future is a real game-changer,” she said. 

Read more:

Maybe they should check the water supply in the Smithsonian?

Coral will outlast humans, it doesn’t need our help. While the adult form of of Coral is immobile, every year corals produce billions of microscopic free swimming larvae, which seek out new locations to colonise.

There is no plausible level of global warming or increased CO2 which could make the world uninhabitable for coral. The organism which survived the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum, 5-8C hotter than today, has nothing to fear from a few degrees of anthropogenic warming.

Oh, that final catastrophe I mentioned that coral had survived? The Quaternary Glaciation, which started 2.58 million years ago, is still happening today – and the coral is doing just fine.

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December 19, 2022 10:13 pm

They are stark raving mad.

Andy Espersen

Reply to  andersjoan
December 19, 2022 11:03 pm

Yes they should know they won’t be around long enough to pull them out of the fridge and reseed the dooming-
Classic case of idiot savants.

Reply to  observa
December 20, 2022 3:21 pm

At least, some sort of idiots.

Reply to  andersjoan
December 20, 2022 7:54 am

They have to do something with grant funding, might as well be this!

The Real Engineer
Reply to  andersjoan
December 21, 2022 4:02 am

What about the vast energy usage for all those freezers when the wind don’t blow? Woops, forgot that!

December 19, 2022 10:17 pm


December 19, 2022 11:33 pm

It is amazing how scientists manage to create their own jobs with other peoples money without their permission.

Reply to  cognog2
December 20, 2022 7:53 am

This is a classic example of “work-making”.

Totally cooked up on a patently spurious premise.

Reply to  cognog2
December 20, 2022 6:14 pm

I wonder what they do, other than play in fish tanks ashore.

1972 I was living in my yacht at a marina in Sydney. I met Ernie, a Queensland reef fisherman who came in to slip a luxury 50Ft cruiser he was delivering from Perth WA to MacKay Queensland. Ernie had left school at 13 to go fishing on the reef, & spent most of his life out there often for months at a time.

1973 I cruised my yacht 1200 miles up to the Great Barrier Reef. On the way back I was sailing through huge patches of a brown sludge, some 20 or 30 acres in area. Horrible stuff that stained your topsides if allowed to dry on the boat. In MacKay I ran into Ernie who told me this horrible stuff was unfertalised dead coral spore. He explained how coral released it’s spore all over 2 nights, to fertalise in the water. What missed out forms these sludge patches before washing ashore to rot. Some south facing shore lines become quite stinky for a couple of weeks.

1982 reef scientists make a huge kerfuffle about their new discovery that coral release their spors simultaneously over one night, [later corrected to 2 nights], to mix in the ocean.

I wonder if it was Earnie, or some other poorly educated fisherman who told them?

December 19, 2022 11:38 pm

Corals evolved in much warmer times. They love warm water. Their biggest risk is falling sea levels, such as occur at the GBR during El Ninos and which caused the bleaching in the last few El Ninos. These “scientists” trying to take control of the perfectly robust GBR at our (vast) expense are just mongrels.

Reply to  Mike Jonas
December 20, 2022 11:12 am

The oceans are mostly too cold for coral, which rather throws a spanner into the narrative that warmer oceans will spell their doom. See my discussion of the good news that we were not allowed to call good news about the GBR earlier this year:

Reply to  Jit
December 20, 2022 12:51 pm

Yes. Even NOAA lays it out

For instance, reef-building corals cannot tolerate water temperatures below 18° Celsius (C). Many grow optimally in water temperatures between 23° and 29° C, but some can tolerate temperatures as high as 40° C for short periods. Most also require very saline (salty) water ranging from 32 to 42 parts per thousand, which must also be clear so that a maximum amount of light penetrates it.

The sediment was more of a problem for the GBR as the James Cook University professor explained before he was fired

There are other other types of non reef building corals in colder deeper water, evolved to be that way of course

Reply to  Duker
December 20, 2022 12:54 pm

More info on the deeper cold water non reef corals, “clever” little things

Last edited 3 months ago by Duker
Chris Hanley
December 20, 2022 12:00 am

The reef has suffered four bleaching events in the last seven years, including the first-ever bleach during a La Niña phenomenon, which typically brings cooler temperatures

Unusually warm ocean temperatures have turned corals white on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in the first-ever mass bleaching under the cooling conditions created by the La Niña weather pattern” (New Scientist).
The ABC report omits that bit (irrespective of whether bleaching is directly caused by warm waters).

Reply to  Chris Hanley
December 20, 2022 12:05 am

It occurs with sudden changes in water temperature. Up or Down.

Reply to  leefor
December 20, 2022 1:13 am

It’s a stress response isn’t it, the coral expelling the symbiant microorganisms?

Reply to  JohnC
December 20, 2022 7:55 am

Natural self-protection & long term preservation.

Reply to  Chris Hanley
December 20, 2022 6:47 pm

They also forget to mention that recent reports tell us that there is more coral on the reef than at any time since surveys have been undertaken. So either coral likes bleaching events, or recent reports of bleaching are extremely doubtful, if not straight out lies.

One other fact that no one seems to mention is that fresh water is toxic to coral. Compare any almost enclosed lagoon with small entrance passages to one with 40% or more access to open sea. The coral in the closed lagoon, with higher levels of fresh water will have negligible live coral in it. This just from rainfall dilution of the salt water.

In the same way, rivers, even in the pristine environment of the Solomon Islands & New Guinea, where the small rivers run clear at all times have an area at their discharge, which is coral free. In the 70s, when satellite mapping had not reached the Pacific islands, much of the coast of these islands was shown with dotted lines. When cruising these areas, when I wanted to anchor in behind their little barrier reefs I would look for a river. Although very small rivers, the constant rain in these areas meant enough fresh water flowed out of them to keep a small passage to the open sea in front of them, & a small lagoon between the reef & the shore, offering protected anchorages.

December 20, 2022 1:11 am

I expect one of these boffins was inspired by a bag of Petit Pois

They’re certainly a lettuce short of an allotment

December 20, 2022 1:28 am

Creating ever more ridiculous ideas to bolster injection of funds.

The reef has suffered four bleaching events in the last seven years, including the first-ever bleach during a La Niña phenomenon, which typically brings cooler temperatures.”

Dear ”scientists”. Do you want to ban the La Nina now?
Leaching is perfectly natural. Leave the damn corals alone you frigging nature molesters!

Last edited 3 months ago by Mike
Peta of Newark
December 20, 2022 2:34 am

This cannot end well for the coral, now can it?

1/ Assume they take some coral ‘into the future’ when all the other coral has died
But what are they gonna do with it – they can hardly put it back where the dead coral was/is because it will surely suffer the same fate – and die.

2/ Again, they take some coral into the future and do find somewhere to transplant it where it grows/thrives.
Very lovely.
But at that new place/site it will be, to all intents, an invasive species.
Australia’s previous efforts, well intentioned but otherwise total muppetry, at that sort of thing have never ended well ‘for the species’
So it will have to be killed. And die.

Last edited 3 months ago by Peta of Newark
December 20, 2022 4:12 am

That begs the question: are these cryo freezers running on wind power or solar?

Reply to  scadsobees
December 20, 2022 4:47 am

And do they have adequate battery back-up?

December 20, 2022 5:43 am

Save the little children!….No. save the bears!…No, save the coral….yeah, that’s it…save the coral.

Gunga Din
December 20, 2022 5:59 am

Where are they going to store the coral-cubes? Wuhan?

Tom Halla
December 20, 2022 7:51 am

Australia is at the southern border of coral, so this is backasswards.

Reply to  Tom Halla
December 20, 2022 12:59 pm

yes. They will just colonise further south ‘if necessary’. However the tropical seas already have a mechanism to transfer heat from the surface water to the skies

December 20, 2022 7:53 am

I’m sure the technology will prove invaluable when we inhabit other planets and want them to look just like earth.

John Hultquist
Reply to  Jackdaw
December 20, 2022 10:31 am

This comment reminded me of a song my mother sang about Ireland that includes this line: “So they sprinkled it with stardust just to make the shamrocks grow”
Insert “coral” for shamrocks —

John in Oz
December 20, 2022 2:09 pm

According to oxygen isotopes in ice cores, sea levels were 8 metres (sic – I’m an Aussie) higher 120,000 years ago and almost 140 metres LOWER 20,000 years ago ( and the reefs managed to survive (plus every other ‘disaster’ that befell them over 500 million years or so).

A few degrees change either way is not going to bother them and does not justify the expense and efforts to freeze them

Andy Pattullo
December 20, 2022 3:15 pm

The hubris of thinking an academic degree and a half baked idea puts one ahead of nature in terms of preserving a livable environment. Why don’t we relieve them all of the burden of saving planet Earth and get them real jobs doing something useful, like digging for coal, oil and gas.

Big Al
December 20, 2022 3:51 pm

Most Cities vote Blue. UN, NWO, specify fluoridated water for general population . Something about making population control easier due to reduced intelligence. See UN Agenda 21. (county folks have well water) Klaus say we got a chip for that now. Laughingly.

Reply to  Big Al
December 20, 2022 8:21 pm

1945 Grand Rapids MI was the first US town to fluoridate its supply ( not a big ‘Dem’ city) and in 1951 became official US Public health policy as it works
many places have Fl occurring naturally at or above recommended does and is more or less present in almost all water supplies anyway but less than recoomended dose.

December 20, 2022 9:23 pm

It’s enough to make one start wishing for the next great extinction event to hurry up and get here.

December 21, 2022 2:38 am

I would say we should freeze the brains of these “scientists” for future study. But on second thought that may not be a good idea.

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