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Great Barrier Reef could be a source of inspiration for technological advancements

Posted August 22, 2018

Great Barrier Reef is a unique creation of nature. It is big, but it is also so fragile – we know we have to protect it. But it is not just the matter of preservation of nature and beautiful sights for future generation – the Great Barrier Reef is actually hiding a lot of features the basis of scientific breakthroughs in renewable energies, next-gen materials and other fields.

Sea sponges at the Great Barrier Reef are able to produce very pure glass-like materials. Image credit: Ryan McMinds via Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)

University of Queensland scientists say that the Great Barrier Reef is still not employed to its full potential. It is now a target for tourists, natural scientists, a habitat for thousands of different species and a source of fish. But it can also serve as an inspiration for scientific and technological breakthroughs. The idea is that since the environment here is harsh, a lot of species had to find innovative ways to adapt to less than ideal situation. Scientists say that we should be inspired by these creatures while solving global problems, like the climate change.

For example, scientists have found that sea sponges, snails or squirts have evolved amazing abilities. Sea sponges are truly incredible because without chemicals, heat or energy they are producing glass that is more pure than anything currently used in fibre optics. And they are able to do that just by doing their job of filtering out hundreds of litters of seawater every day, keeping impurities and producing complex chemicals at the same time. Scientists have known of this capability for quite some time, but only now they are trying to see how they could make use of it. And then there is a humble sea squirt, which could help people to concentrate vanadium, leading to a new generation of batteries that never run out.

In this way a simple sea squirt could help limit the climate change by making renewable resources a much more economical alternative to the usage of fossil fuels. Professor Bernard Degnan from the University of Queensland, said: “With incredible advances in biology and genomics, we can now understand the amazing capabilities of marine animals and convert them into new manufacturing technologies and industries”. Scientists are trying to stress that the Great Barrier Reef is not just a beautiful habitat for wildlife – it is an inspiration for technological advancements as well.

Most importantly, scientists are trying to remind everyone how important it is to research the Great Barrier Reef and how we must find better ways to preserve it. Excessive fishing, ocean acidification, water pollution and many other human-caused factors are putting the Great Barrier Reef in a great deal of danger.


Source: University of Queensland

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