Creation of Australia’s First Frozen Coral Bank

In late November, a few members of the Reef Recovery team met up in Townsville, Australia at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) to begin the creation of a frozen repository for Great Barrier Reef Corals. Dr. Mary Hagedorn and myself, Ginnie Carter, traveled from Hawaii, Mike Henley came from Washington, DC and Dr. Rebecca Spindler came from the Toronga Zoo. AIMS researcher, Dr. Madeleine van Oppen was our gracious host along with many other researchers there.

Acropora tenuis spawns in a tank at AIMS. Photo by M. Henley.

We were able to work on two different species of corals that were brought into the lab and spawned. Australia’s first frozen coral repository was created as we were able to freeze sperm from Acropora tenuis and larval cells from Acropora tenuis and Acropora millepora.

As Acropora tenuis spawns around 9:00pm, Dr. Mary Hagedorn and Ginnie Carter work into the night, cleaning the eggs and sperm for fertilization experiments. Photo by M. Henley.

Press in Australia and around the world took notice of this landmark achievement. You can follow the links below for more on our work at AIMS.

BBC – Great Barrier Reef particles frozen

ABC News – Scientists look to cryogenics to preserve Barrier Reef

The Sydney Morning Herald – Piece of Great Barrier Reef put on ice in frozen zoo

Dr. Rebecca Spindler of the Toronga Zoo shows off a dry shipper full of frozen coral samples that mark the creation of Australia’s first frozen coral repository for the Great Barrier Reef. Photo by M. Hagedorn.

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