Florida Aquarium tries to jump-start coral growth in Apollo Beach test
APOLLO BEACH – Under the water, on tiny tiles at the Florida Aquarium's Conservation Center in Apollo Beach, babies are growing.
"Baby corals from this past year's coral spawn in the Keys," explained coral biologist Rachel Seraphin. "These individuals are all staghorn coral, which is our main reef building coral for the Florida reef track."
The Florida Aquarium is having big success in coral reproduction. The team collected spawn during a dive in the Florida Keys back in August.
"We bring those bundles back to the lab where we break them apart, separate the sperm and the egg, fertilize the eggs, make sure the fertilization process has happened," continued Seraphin. "The importance of the sexual reproduction of corals is being able to diversify our genetic pool of corals so that they can battle disease, weather events, temperature swings -- high or low, or any other factors."
More than 100 of these baby corals have survived and flourished under this care. It's hope for the effort to strengthen coral reefs.
"Especially, the Florida reef track. About 98 percent has declined since the 80's," said Seraphin.
Some of that is caused by man, including land-based pollution like runoff. There's also the decline of sharks.