Dr Parker, from James Cook University’s School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, and collaborator Professor Rocky de Nys, from JCU’s School of Marine and Tropical Biology, have just received a $7,000 Collaboration Across Boundaries grant to prove their theory that feeding seaweed to cow will improve their digestion and make them produce less methane.

Just like carbon dioxide, methane is a so called green-house gas and the world’s cattle population accounts for up to 20% of methane emissions from human-related activities. Global warming is suspected to be one of several factors harming our tropical reefs worldwide and finding ways of reducing the amount of methane released into the air is therefore highly interesting.

Dr Parker and Professor Rocky de Nys will now test their theory on herd of cattle living at the University’s Townsville campus.

Orkney sheep are ruminants that live off seaweed and they do very well on such a diet; so the obvious question is, why can’t cows?” said Dr Parker.

I like to call it the reef and beef project because it has far reaching implications that come full circle:starting with seaweed, taking in the beef and aquaculture industries, and extending back out to the sea to help conserve the Great Barrier Reef.”