Scientists collected sperm samples from spawning coral and cryogenically froze it, in an effort to preserve the genetic data of the coral and maybe even grow some of it back later.
The Great Barrier Reef off the northeast coast of Australia is the largest coral reef system in the world.
Coral populations in the Great Barrier Reef have been decimated over the past couple of decades, with more than half of the coral dying off since the year 1985.
Scientists collected sperm samples from spawning coral and will cryogenically freeze it, in an effort to preserve the genetic data and possibly re-populate the reef at a later time.
Just like a sperm bank, scientists would be able to grow new coral if they combine the frozen sperm with fresh coral eggs.
Reseeding coral reefs would help with the biodiversity that has been destroyed when large parts of the reef die off.
There are some zoos in the United States that have frozen sperm banks as a way to protect endangered species of animals and plants.
Researchers working in Hawaii came up with effective ways to preserve sperm and embryos from coral, and Mary Hagedorn, one of the marine biologists from the University of Hawaii who developed the techniques is helping scientists in Australia with the Great Barrier Reef conservation efforts.