Propagation program to save Florida Keys coral reefsPosted on Friday, March 5th, 2010 at 9:00 am by Reef Tools
A group of scientists from the Florida Aquarium, the University of Florida, and the National Marine Sanctuary Program have set up a project to try and restore reefs damages by various elements. Recent cold spells in Florida, have been absolutely devastating to shallow coral reefs. The 11 day cold spell, has dropped water temperature in these reef to around 45 degrees, which was cold enough to kill the sensitive inverts. We have outlined several reasons why coral reefs are being threatened, and this was just another shot in the gut.
The group of scientists have set up a coral propagation project to “cut years off the healing process”. This effort, focuses on planting coral frags in a sandy, one-acre site, near Key Largo. In essence, frags are collected in areas where damage was caused to a reef. The frags are grown in a lab for at least six months, then taken back to the “reconstruction” site and is “re-planted”. At this point, only 2 tanks are being used for such propagation, but lab director Craig Watson says the project is only at it’s infancy stage. Watson adds that at this point, research is their main focus; “I’d say at some point, this all has got to be ramped up to much larger scale.”
This is an interesting proposition, although it will be decades before propagation projects could noticeably impact these reefs.