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Florida Aquarium Scientists Declare Main Breakthrough by Efficiently Reproducing Elkhorn Coral

Florida Aquarium Scientists Declare Main Breakthrough by Efficiently Reproducing Elkhorn Coral

By Ian Bongso-Seldrup, September 4, 2022 @ 08:30 PM (EST)
Supply: CNN

Researchers working within the Florida Aquarium’s coral conservation program have claimed a major breakthrough of their efforts to save lots of the corals of the Florida Keys Reef Tract—the planet’s third-largest barrier reef, which stretches greater than 350 miles alongside the southeastern Florida coast. The scientists say they’ve used aquarium expertise to efficiently reproduce elkhorn coral, a important species that’s notoriously tough to develop within the lab.

Keri O’Neil, the senior scientist that oversees the Tampa aquarium’s spawning lab, mentioned: “This can be a important step to stopping elkhorn coral from going extinct within the state of Florida.” Elkhorn coral as soon as dominated the Caribbean, however it’s now hardly ever seen alive within the wild. O’Neil estimates that there are solely round 300 elkhorn coral left within the Florida Keys Reef Tract. Nevertheless, she expects as many as 100 of the hundreds of child coral produced within the spawning experiment to outlive into maturity.

O’Neil says her group has confronted numerous criticism from different researchers who doubted the corals may spawn within the lab. Final 12 months, this system set about creating the proper managed atmosphere for elkhorn coral to spawn—which solely occurs yearly—utilizing LED lights to precisely mimic dawn, sundown and moon cycles. When the coral didn’t spawn, the group realized that the timing of moonrise was off by “about three hours.” After making that correction, this August, the scientists noticed child coral underneath the microscope for the primary time.

The breakthrough is important for the bigger restoration effort, which entails numerous associate conservation teams and organisations within the area. The work opens up the potential for choosing corals for restoration with explicit properties that may permit the reef to grow to be extra resilient to the threats related to hotter ocean temperatures, illness, and different environmental stressors. Nevertheless, researchers emphasize that the final word downside that must be solved is the local weather disaster. “We’re shopping for time for the reef. We’re shopping for time for the corals,” mentioned O’Neil. “There may be hope for coral reefs. Don’t quit hope. It’s all not misplaced. Nevertheless, we have to make severe adjustments in our conduct to save lots of this planet.”


A microscope picture of the child coral that spawned on the Florida Aquarium

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