Energy & Environment

Florida aquarium makes breakthrough discovery that could save dying coral reefs

The Florida Aquarium made a breakthrough discovery that could eventually save dying coral reefs, the aquarium announced Wednesday. 

Scientists at the aquarium in Tampa successfully reproduced cactus coral for the first time in human care, using coral rescued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and NOAA Fisheries.

The scientists are aiming to learn more about coral reproduction in the hopes of replenishing reefs in the state that have experienced a disease outbreak since 2014. They have learned for the first time about when ridged cactus coral reproduce and what the babies look like. 

Previously, not much was known about the ridged cactus coral’s reproduction as no photos, videos or studies existed before the Florida Aquarium’s success. 

The coral releases only its sperm into the water, so the eggs are fertilized inside the parent coral. Then, the parent coral spits out the larvae, which swim until finding a place to settle. The next steps will involve learning how far larvae travel.

The scientists told CNN the coral reefs first began giving birth in early April and are still going, with more than 350 larvae so far. 

“While our Aquarium remains temporarily closed to the public as we support our community’s wellbeing efforts, not even a global pandemic can slow us down when it comes to protecting and restoring America’s ‘great’ barrier reef,” The Florida Aquarium President and CEO Roger Germann said in a release.

Last August, the scientists also became the first in the world to reproduce Atlantic Ocean coral two days in a row in a lab setting.

Tags Aquarium coral coral reproduction Florida ridged cactus coral
See all Hill.TV See all Video