Featured Image Credit:Wikimedia Commons
By Emily Persico
You’ve probably heard the news by now, but coral reefs everywhere are dying. The Caribbean is no different. Here, more than half of the coral reefs have died since 1970, and the 4,000 species of fish that depend on these reefs are in danger. Now, it is up to the Florida-Cuba duo to save the reefs before it is too late.
The Florida Aquarium has teamed up with the National Aquarium of Cuba. Together, this duo hopes to build 12,000 square feet of coral greenhouses, likely to cost millions of dollars. These greenhouses will be used to grow and maintain coral to assist in a joint coral reef restoration project.
This partnership itself is groundbreaking, the first ever between aquariums from these nations. According to Linda Penfold, director of the SE Zoo Alliance for Reproduction & Conservation, the research is even more impressive. “This is breaking new ground,” she said.
Scientists from Florida and Cuba have found a way to freeze the semen of Staghorn coral, a species of coral that is critical to the survival of Caribbean reefs. The eventual goal is to find a way to freeze coral eggs and create a bank of viable coral for the future.
“But this is a long-range plan,” says Margo McKnight, vice president of biological operations at the Florida Aquarium. In the meantime, the goal is to build greenhouses and an underwater coral farm. Together, these structures will allow scientists to study and grow corals to restore the Caribbean.
Guanahacabibes National Park will be the home of the new coral farm beginning in March, where scientist will construct an acre of underwater “trees,” or PVC pipes dug into the ground on which coral can grow.
“We have a lot going on,” says McKnight. “Next year will be exciting.”
We can’t agree more. Here’s to 2017!
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