13 Dec 2012

Australian scientists discover algae with high resistance to acidification

11:30 am on 13 December 2012

Scientists from Australia say the discovery of an algae that is less vulnerable to acidification can help coastal communities in the Pacific remain protected by coral reefs.

The researchers from the Australian National University have discovered that coralline algae, a plant which binds reefs together, has a special mineral that is less susceptible to rising carbon and acidity levels in the ocean.

The lead author of the research, Merinda Nash says this means reef structures containing the unique algae can stay in tact.

"If you're living on an island that's in a high energy area, very exposed, and you're very reliant on the lagoon, the barrier reef to protect you, protect your shores from erosion and houses close to the water's edge from high waves, big storm events, then this means those ridges will continue to provide that protection. So it's probably a physical protection we're talking about here."

Merinda Nash says although the finding is good news, it does not mean coral reefs are immune from the effects of climate change.