Mote Marine Laboratory Documents Another First for Massive Corals in Florida

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SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING THURSDAY AUG 13, 2020

For the first time in Florida or Caribbean waters, restored massive corals were observed spawning—part of sexual reproduction that could result in the next generation of coral offspring—thanks to Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium's innovative efforts to restore Florida's Coral Reef. Over the past few nights, Mote coral scientists observed restored colonies of mountainous star coral (Orbicella faveolata) on a reef near Cook Island, hoping to capture the brief moment during the evening where the coral release their gametes (eggs and sperm) into the water column, a process known as spawning. On August 9th, to the delight of Mote scientists, a coral colony known to be gravid (containing gametes) released its gametes in an extraordinary display. Further cause for underwater celebration came on Aug. 10, when five more colonies spawned. This is the first time that restored massive corals have been documented to spawn on Florida’s Coral Reef. The documentation of the presence of gametes and of spawning in colonies of restored mountainous star coral is a first for massive corals in Florida and the Caribbean. This key species is listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and is one of the most critical reef-builders on Florida’s Reef Tract, helping to form the backbone of the entire reef system.

Pictured: A restored colony of mountainous star coral releases gametes into the water column. Credit Joe Berg.

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