Florida Aquarium Success for Corals

by | Jul 3, 2023 | Conservation, Corals | 0 comments

Pillar coral (Dendrogyra cylindrus). Photo: N Hobgood

Scientists say that pillar coral in Florida has not successfully produced offspring in decades! A bit of a worry if you think of how much reef is disappearing due to pollution and climate change. Not only do corals have to worry about threats caused by humans, they also have diseases to deal with. The stony coral tissue loss disease outbreak decimated pillar corals on Florida’s Coral Reef. Only 24 genetic individuals remain alive on Florida’s Coral Reef and the species was what they call “functionally extinct”. This means that natural recovery through reproduction would not occur without human intervention…so intervene we did!

Florida Aquarium to the rescue

Coral biologists at the Florida Aquarium spent months mimicking the timing of sunrises, sunsets, moonrises, and moonsets to trigger the animals to spawn and in 2019, pillar coral was the first species that they got to successfully spawn in their lab. Since then, they have managed to spawn another 13 different species of Atlantic Coral.

Take a look at their work: https://youtu.be/oRVRBuiJ1cY

From lab to reef

For the first time ever, Atlantic pillar coral (Dendrogyra cylindrus) offspring, produced from spawning using lab-induced techniques and raised in an aquarium, have been returned to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Pillar coral offspring. Photo: Florida Aquarium

The young pillar corals came from 19 different parent colonies, 18 of which are no longer alive in the wild. With new combinations of genes from multiple parents, it is possible for the young corals to be more resilient to future stressors. This combined effort between the Florida Aquarium and the Coral Restoration Foundation is the first step to rebuilding the population for the future.

To find out more, got to: https://www.coralrestoration.org/restoration

  • Heidi dM

    Heidi is a Marine Biologist who has been working in the public aquarium industry as an aquarist and now as a consultant specialising in husbandry, interpretation and staff training. She has also written a series of children's books about the aquarium and fish world called "Abby's Aquarium Adventures".


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