Researchers See Growth From Transplanted Corals Off South Florida Coast

Aug 27, 2014

Researchers in South Florida say an effort to rebuild coral reefs using coral transplanted from offshore nurseries is looking like a success. Scientists are seeing the first signs of growth from the new coral.

In 2009 the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spearheaded a project to rebuild reefs in Florida’s Keys using coral grown in a nursery.  But setbacks hampered the nursery’s progress so officials reached out to offshore nurseries around the state, to cultivate a new population of coral.

Researchers check on the growth of a staghorn coral colony off the coast of South Florida.
Credit FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

FWC Research Associate Kerry Maxwell says the goal was to help the coral  reproduce independently.

“The idea was to get out there and reseed the reefs and put corals out there that would hopefully grow up and spawn on their own and reseed the reefs with new genetic material,” Maxwell says.

This month’s success indicates transplanted corals are capable of reproducing just like natural coral colonies would. FWC researchers and their partners hope the findings will further coral repopulation efforts around Florida.