This scientific breakthrough could save America’s biggest coral reef

Like Australia, the US has its own “Great Barrier Reef”, lying just off the coast of the Florida Keys. It’s the third-largest coral reef in the world, and it’s in serious danger. As the temperature of the oceans continues to rise, the corals are dying off at an unprecedented rate. If nothing is done about this problem, the US could effectively lose its giant coral reef. But there’s a reason for hope.

This week, scientists at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa successfully managed to get a group of coral to reproduce two days in a row, marking the first time this has ever happened in the lab setting. In order to make this happen, the scientists reproduced the natural environment of coral by using coral greenhouses that utilize advanced LED technology and a computer-control system that mimics the natural environment of coral. When the conditions are just right, the coral is subtly signaled to reproduce.

The successful result is part of what the aquarium calls “Project Coral”— a program designed in part with the goal of ultimately repopulating the Florida Reef Tract. So far, the project seems to be on the right track. 

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