Featured Image Credit: Florida Aquarium
Thanks to Horniman Museum & Gardens in the UK and The Florida Aquarium in the US, endangered species of coral have a chance at restoration. The two institutions are working together to spawn and grow coral in lab conditions as natural conditions become less conducive to spawning.
In the wild, corals reproduce by releasing eggs and sperm into the water at the same time. Spawning, or reproducing, only happens once a year. This occurs less frequently now due to the changing climate, putting coral in danger. So, before now, research opportunities have been few and far between.
In 2013 the Horniman Aquarium started “Project Coral” and became the first place in the world to “predictably induce coral spawning in a fully closed aquarium lab setting.” Now they’re joining with The Florida Aquarium to combine expertise and hopefully regenerate reefs along the Florida’s coast.
The Florida Aquarium has a state-of-the-art coral conservation nursery at its location in Apollo Beach, Florida, so they bring a lot of experience to the table. Later this month Keri O’Neil, the Coral Nursery Manager at The Florida Aquarium, will be visiting Horniman Museum & Gardens to learn the coral growing techniques as well as devise ways to transport coral fragments to Florida.
Project Coral has seen major advances in triggering spawning multiple times a year. The corals produced in Florida using Project Coral protocol will all be species listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The corals will be transferred to the reefs off Florida’s southeastern coast.
Coral reefs are essential for marine life to flourish, and they are being endangered by climate change and increasing water temperatures. Coral is the cornerstone of reefs that are extremely biodiverse and support the economy with fisheries and tourism. Taking steps to regenerate the reefs is a crucial endeavor to help ocean life to thrive.