Giving Compass' Take:

· To offset the damaging effect of climate change and ocean water heating, Peter Harrison and Matthew Dunbabin have partnered together to develop a robot capable of “coral IVF." This new creation goes around to damaged reefs and sprinkles baby coral to generate new growth and bring back life.

· How can philanthropy continue to support fresh and innovative ideas that may lead to important solutions?

· Check out this environmental issues guide by Giving Compass to see how you can get involved in saving the planet.

This spring, a yellow robot glided through a coral reef in the Philippines, spending hours gently sprinkling microscopic baby coral onto the damaged reef below. It was an early test of technology that some researchers think could help speed up efforts to rebuild struggling reefs around the world.

“The world’s reefs are losing corals faster than they can be naturally replaced,” says Peter Harrison, an ecologist at Southern Cross University in Australia, who partnered with Matthew Dunbabin, an engineer from Queensland University of Technology, to build and test the robot. “In just about every reef system on the planet, we are suffering from declining corals. So what we’re focused on is trying to restore coral populations to get the corals growing back on these degraded reef systems as quickly as possible.”

The new process accelerates a technique that Harrison, known for pioneering “coral IVF,” has already tested by hand. Corals typically reproduce en masse at night—once a year, when the moon, tides, and temperature are right, a blizzard of billions of eggs and sperm floats from corals to the surface of the water for fertilization. In a week or less, new coral larvae begin to restock the reef. But as coral reefs collapse—from heatwaves in the ocean, overfishing, pollution, and other problems—some reefs don’t have enough coral left to successfully spawn and rebuild a damaged reef.

Read the full article about reversing the damage to coral reefs by Adele Peters at Fast Company.