Good News: Florida Aquarium’s Breakthrough Could Save America’s Only Coral Barrier Reef
The Florida Aquarium latest discovery could save the only coral barrier reef in the U.S., which is often referred to as “America’s Great Barrier Reef” and is the third-largest in the world.
“Scientists at The Florida Aquarium have again made history, this time becoming the first in the world to reproduce ridged cactus coral or Mycetophyllia lamarckiana in human care,” the aquarium wrote in a statement.
The reef is roughly 10,000 years old and is found alongside the Florida Keys, running for 360 miles long. 90 percent of the coral had vanished, however, due to climate change and pollution, making this breakthrough incredibly good news.
“Healthy coral reefs are vital to the survival and quality of life of humans and animals, especially here in Florida and throughout the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico,” Roger Germann, The Florida Aquarium President and CEO, told CNN. “We believe it’s our responsibility to save the Florida Reef Tract from disappearing.”
According to the Tampa aquarium, this is the first time this type of coral larvae has ever been photographed, measured, or studied, and this is the largest they had ever seen them.
The aquarium took to Twitter to share the news on Wednesday — the greatest Earth Day announcement:
Happy #EarthDay! 🌎 The Florida Aquarium has made history once again! This time becoming the first in the world to reproduce ridged cactus coral in human care. 🌵😮 Until now, the larval release time of this coral had never been recorded. pic.twitter.com/ptniV3UY9V
— The Florida Aquarium (@floridaaquarium) April 22, 2020
The research is part of the “Project Coral” initiative, which the aquarium launched in August to help rebuild the reef systems off the coast of Florida.
Keri O’Neil, a senior coral scientist at the Florida Aquarium, explains that the purpose of the initiative is “to develop technology to induce corals to spawn in the laboratory.”
“We are losing coral species faster than we can learn about them,” O’Neil told CNN. “This breakthrough is just really exciting; we’re still learning basic new things you’d think we’ve known for hundreds of years.
This is not the Florida Aquarium’s first groundbreaking discovery, in August, their scientists became the first ever to get Atlantic Ocean coral to reproduce twice a row in a lab setting.
Watch the coral reproduce above, via the aquarium’s Youtube page.
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