Mote Marine Laboratory Documents Massive Corals in Florida

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SRQ DAILY WEDNESDAY PHILANTHROPY EDITION WEDNESDAY AUG 5, 2020

For the first time, massive corals restored to Florida's Coral Reef are ready to become parents in the wild—a breakthrough in Mote Marine Laboratory's scientific efforts to restore critically imperiled coral reefs, the “rainforests of the sea,” to self-sustaining life. This month, Mote’s coral reproduction scientist, Dr. Hanna Koch, identified gametes (eggs and sperm) inside colonies of two threatened, yet key, reef-building species that Mote restored to Florida Keys reefs in recent years: the massive or mounding species called mountainous star coral (Orbicella faveolata) and branching staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis). Both species are listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The presence of gametes indicates that these corals are sexually mature, gravid (pregnant), and ready to produce the next generation of coral “babies” with fresh genetics to help revive declining coral populations. These corals are achieving critical milestones for the entire field of coral reef restoration—showing the first signs that they are capable of producing new generations of corals on their own. These and other corals in Mote’s restored populations survived big challenges to reach this point, demonstrating resilience. Their success validates the significance and progress of Mote’s science-based, resilience-focused coral restoration.

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, 941-388-4441. Pictured: Mote's Dr. Hanna Koch observes out-planted mountainous star coral at a reef in the Florida Keys.

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