From ABC News: Scientists freeze reef samples for marine 'bank'
Marine researchers say they are freezing coral samples from the Great Barrier Reef off Queensland as an insurance policy for the future.
In what is said to be an Australian first, scientists have frozen coral embryonic cells and sperm to create a bank of the species.
The cryo-preserved specimens will be held in a specialist facility for genetic material at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo in New South Wales.
Australian Institute of Marine Science spokeswoman Dr Madeleine van Oppen says the coral could one day play an important role in maintaining the diversity of reefs.
"It is hoped that we will never need them that we will be able to preserve the reefs as they are by other measures but in case we do need to use them then at least they are there," she said.
Dr van Oppen says it is the first time the project has been carried out in Australia.
"These cells are frozen but kept alive so we can thaw them in the future and sperm can be used to fertilise fresh eggs and we're hoping that the technologies will be developed to such an extent that we can regrow coral colonies from the frozen cells," she said.