Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium - Sarasota, Florida

CORAL  CULTURE PROGRAM

The coral reefs in the Florida Keys are a unique national treasure that needs to be protected. The decline of healthy corals has been demonstrated by the increased documentation of coral diseases, coral bleaching, and decreased living coral cover. Coral reefs are also impacted by disturbances, such as ship groundings and hurricanes, which occur throughout the Florida Keys.  Recognizing the need for new colonies to restore those sites following one of these disturbances, Mote Marine Laboratory's Tropical Research Laboratory began developing coral culture techniques for Caribbean coral species in 1992. 

With funding from the National Science Foundation, National Marine Fisheries Service and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS), Mote has successfully cultured a number of coral species for research trials to evaluate the biology of coral diseases, the impact of chemical stressors on coral colonies, and to provide colonies for FKNMS restoration efforts at sites impacted by vessel groundings.

Although the number of reef restoration projects in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) and elsewhere is increasing, there has only been a limited amount of research to determine the optimal restoration techniques. Development of restoration techniques requires multiple colonies of the range of coral species impacted by groundings in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the different restoration strategies.

Coral culture research efforts are focused on developing propagation techniques to utilize small fragments that are available following grounding events to produce high-health genetic strains and/or seedling colonies for restoration efforts. Successful restoration efforts will be dependent on having a bank of high-health, multi-species, coral colonies to replant impacted sites. Research to determine the optimal size, shape and season for restoration efforts will be conducted in conjunction with the FKNMS and Mote's Center for Fisheries Enhancement.

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Mote Marine Laboratory - Tropical Research Laboratory
24244 Overseas Highway, Summerland Key, Florida 33042
(305)745-2729 - (305) 745-2730(FAX) - TRL-info@mote.org

Dave Vaughan and Kevan Main
Coral Culture Program

Stabilization of "Rescued" Corals

Genetic Bank and Fragmentation

Working with Restoration Efforts