Today’s Solutions: December 01, 2021

The Florida Aquarium’s Center for Conservation hopes to save wild coral populations by introducing lab-bred populations back into the ocean. The team had an exciting win this week when a ridged cactus coral experienced a rare larvae birth. 

Ridged cactus coral suffers from stony coral tissue loss disease which has depleted populations in natural habitats in the Florida Reef Tract off the southeastern coast of the state and in the Caribbean. Breeding programs in aquariums could be key to saving this endangered species, but the coral is temperamental and usually only release a small number of larvae over the course of weeks or even months. 

The aquarium has recorded 340 larvae since April 12 with seven to 45 new births each night. The surprisingly successful breeding phenomenon is a small victory for coral populations around the world which could go extinct by 2100 due to climate change. 

The aquarium is collaborating with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service to raise coral populations and reintroduce them to the wild. Hopefully, this successful aquarium breeding means that new ridged cactus coral will find homes in the ocean in the near future.

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