TAMPA, Fla. - The Florida Aquarium celebrated a milestone this week, and in reality, the bigger impact for this milestone will benefit the entire state.
Scientists with the Coral Rescue Project and the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Restoration Hub were able to successfully take rescued coral offspring and transplant them into the wild with positive growth results on Florida's reefs.
"The coral rescue project is a multi-agency effort," said Florida Aquarium Marine Science manager Keri O'Neill, "What this project did was go and remove corals from the reef in Florida before they were exposed to a very deadly disease."
That disease, Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease, has been impacting coastal Florida reef since 2014.
To combat the disease and recreate the reefs, the project brought together two large efforts that are focused on protecting and restoring Florida's coral populations.
"This (effort) put these corals in aquariums," shared O'Neill. "Coral is actually an animal... It is what builds our reefs. It protects our coasts from storm activity."
Corals benefit the animal and plant life in the ocean as well as protect the coastal areas.
The living coral secrete a calcium carbonate that gives them a hard outer skeleton similar to limestone. This helps them attach to the ocean floor base rock or other coral skeletons on the reef.
When the coral flourishes, the ocean is healthier and provides more habitat for fish and other living creatures.
"This project just shows that we can continue to keep these corals in safekeeping. We can keep reproducing them," shared O'Neill. "We can keep providing diverse and healthy offspring to restore Florida's reefs in the future."
Click here to learn more about the Florida Aquarium's involvement in the coral restoration project.
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