A scientific breakthrough at the Florida Aquarium could save America's 'Great Barrier Reef'

Article Image

The Florida Aquarium in Tampa, Florida, says they've made scientific history as a group of coral ha...

Posted: Aug 21, 2019 12:05 PM
Updated: Aug 21, 2019 4:45 PM

The Florida Aquarium in Tampa, Florida, says they've made scientific history as a group of coral has successfully reproduced two days in a row for the first time in a lab setting.

The milestone could have broad implications for 'America's Barrier Reef,' which is the third largest coral reef in the world and is found just off the coast of the Florida Keys.

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. The project works in partnership with London's Horniman Museum and Gardens to create coral spawn, or large egg deposits, in a lab.

'It's pure excitement to be the first to achieve a breakthrough in the world,' CEO of the Florida Aquarium Roger Germann told CNN. 'Our team of experts cracked the code...that gives hope to coral in the Florida Reef Tract and to coral in the Caribbean and Atlantic Oceans.'

Generating a spawn has never been done for corals native to the Atlantic, so the system was set up to see if it could work. According to Germann, many coral experts even doubted that the aquarium's efforts would produce successful results.

The team started working on the research which initially began in 2014 with the Staghorn coral, but then the focus shifted to pillar coral because of a disease that has been devastating to the Florida Reef Tract. Pillar coral are now classified as almost extinct since the remaining male and female clusters are too far apart to reproduce.

'It's quite possible that we just had our last wild spawning of pillar coral this year due to the Stoney Coral Tissue Loss Disease,' the aquarium's coral expert Keri O'Neill said. 'But with the success of this project, as a scientist, I now know that every year for the foreseeable future we can spawn Florida pillar corals in the laboratory and continue our work trying to rebuild the population.'s

According to the aquarium, the coral greenhouses use advanced LED technology and computer-control systems to mimic the natural environment of the coral to subtly signal the corals to reproduce.

The spawning now shows that genetic diversity and resilience are possible, and it will help keep the ecosystems, as well as Florida's tourist economy, in tact.

'Now there really is hope ... I think we can save it,' Germann added.

The next steps are to continue the project and build more greenhouses so the aquarium and scientists on the project can work to build a better ecosystem for all wildlife.

'We're going to ramp it up. We aren't going to rest. We want to see a diverse coral reef,' Germann said.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 34830

Reported Deaths: 2143
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9900581
Lake3639190
Allen166269
Cass15877
Elkhart132228
St. Joseph128634
Hendricks117171
Hamilton116293
Johnson1115109
Madison59359
Porter54328
Bartholomew51535
Clark50541
LaPorte43824
Howard41528
Tippecanoe4143
Jackson3921
Delaware38539
Shelby37322
Hancock34027
Floyd31839
Boone31535
Vanderburgh2822
Morgan28024
Montgomery24517
Noble23721
White2378
Clinton2331
Decatur22431
Grant21323
Dubois1993
Harrison19422
Henry18411
Greene16925
Vigo1698
Dearborn16821
Warrick16628
Monroe16612
Lawrence16524
Kosciusko1501
Miami1401
Putnam1377
Jennings1304
Orange13022
Scott1203
Marshall1112
Franklin1108
Ripley1096
Carroll932
Daviess9216
Wayne855
LaGrange842
Steuben842
Wabash792
Fayette787
Newton7810
Jasper681
Jay530
Washington521
Clay511
Fulton491
Randolph483
Rush472
Pulaski460
Jefferson451
Whitley433
Starke393
DeKalb371
Sullivan361
Owen351
Perry330
Brown331
Wells320
Benton310
Huntington282
Knox280
Blackford262
Tipton251
Crawford240
Fountain212
Switzerland200
Spencer201
Parke180
Gibson172
Adams171
Posey160
Ohio130
Warren121
Martin110
Vermillion100
Union90
Pike60
Unassigned0167
West Lafayette
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 88°
Kokomo
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 85°
Rensselaer
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 88°
Fowler
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 88°
Williamsport
Clear
87° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 87°
Crawfordsville
Clear
83° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 83°
Frankfort
Broken Clouds
88° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 88°
Delphi
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 86°
Monticello
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 86°
Logansport
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 88°
Heat and Humidity Return Today.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events