Updated: Nov 23, 2019
The Florida Aquarium has successfully achieved spawning of Atlantic pillar coral, using lab-induced techniques developed by collaborators at The Horniman Aquarium in the UK. The lab-induced spawning of the coral was thought impossible by many experts, but the breakthrough has given scientists in Florida new hope of saving the Florida Reef Tract from extinction.
Coral reefs are known as the building blocks of ocean life, with countless species reliant on the rich ecosystems they provide. They are one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet and provide the necessary habitat for approximately a quarter of all marine life, as well as livelihoods for around 800 million people around the world. However, the current rate of rising sea temperatures and ocean pollution and acidification suggests that 60% of the world's coral reefs may die within the next 20 years.
Project Coral was established in 2013 by The Horniman Aquarium, UK, which became the first organisation globally to predictably induce coral spawning in a fully closed laboratory aquarium. The collaboration with The Florida Aquarium enabled the groundbreaking techniques developed in the UK to be implemented in Florida, where scientists are working to save North America's only barrier reef, the Florida Reef Tract, from extinction.
The Florida Aquarium President and CEO, Roger Germann, said “We dedicated our resources and expertise to achieve this monumental outcome... we will now work even harder to protect and restore our Blue Planet."
The novel techniques discovered at the The Horniman Aquarium, and recent breakthrough at The Florida Aquarium, have given scientists new hope for growing essential corals in a laboratory. This will enable continued research into the effects of climate change on coral reefs, in addition to providing new corals for rebuilding reefs that are on the brink of extinction.