There’s A Giant Volcanic Rock Floating Towards The Great Barrier Reef And It Might Actually Do Some Good
Usually when you hear of giant rocks hurtling towards you, it's generally cause for concern; but strangely not in this case.
Earlier this month an Australian couple on a worldwide sailing adventure came across a giant volcanic pumice (three times the size of Sydney Harbour) floating off the coast of Tonga as a result of a recent underwater volcanic eruption.
The couple posted a few photos of the pumice to Facebook and within days received a long list of requests from scientists and university professors asking for specimens for further research.
Associate Professor Scott Bryan at Queensland's University of Technology, who has been studying underwater volcanic activity for over two decades, believes the floating rock island could reach Australia within seven to twelve months, bringing with it a host of marine life that could potentially revive the badly damaged Great Barrier Reef.
Bryan said: "In this 150-odd square kilometres of pumice out there right now, there's probably billions to trillions of pieces of pumice all floating together, and each piece of pumice is a vehicle for some marine organism. Organisms such as algae, barnacles, snails, crabs and possibly even corals could attach themselves to the pumice raft, serving as a natural mechanism for species to colonise, restock and grow in a new environment."
Rising ocean temperatures brought on by climate change, have resulted in devastating bleaching to the Great Barrier Reef, forcing the coral to expel nutrient-rich algae, which causes the coral to lose its colour and die.
The warmer the ocean gets, the less algae the corals have to keep them alive, but the pumice raft has the potential to bring new, healthy coral to the reef.
Although, not everyone agrees.
Terry Hughes, director of the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University in Australia warned that: "If the planet continues to warm, the world's coral reefs won't be saved by a pumice raft or any other technological tools."
"Reefs will be gone unless we tackle anthropogenic heating," Hughes warned, describing the dangers of human activities such as burning fossil fuels.
So even though the giant rock could mean a boost to the marine life of the Great Barrier Reef, unless we change our carbon emission habits, the reef is still on the road to destruction.
To pressure the Australian Government into taking action against the threats currently facing the Great Barrier Reef, click here and help make the Great Barrier Reef an Australian citizen, so she has the rights and protections that all great Aussies deserve.
Featured Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory / Joshua Stevens