Melbourne, Mar 27 (PTI) A novel sun shield’ made from an ultra-thin surface film may help protect the iconic Great Barrier Reef from the impacts of coral bleaching, scientists said today.

The results from a small-scale trial led by researchers at Great Barrier Reef Foundation were very encouraging.

The sun shield’ is 50,000 times thinner than a human hair and completely biodegradable, containing the same ingredient corals use to make their hard skeletons – calcium carbonate,” said Anna Marsden, Managing Director at Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

“It’s designed to sit on the surface of the water above the corals, rather than directly on the corals, to provide an effective barrier against the sun,” said Marsden.

While it is still early days, and the trials have been on a small scale, the testing shows the film reduced light by up to 30 per cent, researchers said.

Scientists tested the effectiveness of the one molecule thick film on seven different coral species in simulated coral bleaching event conditions at the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

They found that the surface film provided protection and reduced the level of bleaching in most species.

With the surface film containing the same ingredient that corals use to make their skeletons, the research also showed the film had no harmful effects on the corals during the trials.

The project set out to explore new ways to help reduce the impact of coral bleaching affecting the Great Barrier Reef and coral reefs globally,” said Marsden.

“It created an opportunity to test the idea that by reducing the amount of sunlight from reaching the corals in the first place, we can prevent them from becoming stressed which leads to bleaching,” she said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.