This summer has seen rising temperatures, both on land and in the water. The rising temperature of the ocean’s waters can be damaging to many species, including coral reefs. Rising water temperatures can lead to coral bleaching – the process where corals are stressed by changes in their environment and expel the symbiotic algae living in their tissues, causing them to turn completely white. Corals rely on these symbiotic algae for nutrition, without them they are exposed to disease and death.
Georgia Aquarium has been actively involved in coral restoration and conservation since 2010, partnering with organizations like the Coral Restoration Foundation to aid in their efforts to effectively grow coral fragments in an underwater nursery near Molasses Reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The Aquarium recently partnered with the Coral Restoration Foundation on the creation of a “Coral Bus”. This cutting-edge aquarium trailer system is the first of its kind and was designed to assist with the transport of nursery-raised corals safely to their new homes within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Georgia Aquarium has also joined a major undertaking by zoos and aquariums across the nation, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Florida Reef Tract Rescue Project in 2018. This project comprises select facilities who are working with federal and state agencies to save stony coral tissue loss disease susceptible corals species along the Florida Reef Tract. Since March of 2019, and to date, nearly 2000 corals directly from the ocean have been placed in 19 facilities managed by AZA-accredited institutions in 12 states – including Georgia Aquarium. As a part of this project, Aquarium staff have been involved in rescuing and housing coral with the goal of reintroducing these species back into the ocean to repopulate the reefs that have been devastated by disease and coral bleaching. It may be quite some time until the ocean is healthy enough to support these corals, but the Aquarium is dedicated to their care for as long as it takes.
Coral reefs play a huge role in our ocean’s ecosystem, supporting nearly 25% of all marine life. Coral reefs also protect our coastlines from storms and erosion, provide jobs for local communities, and support fishing industries around the world. Georgia Aquarium is dedicated to the conservation of coral – by caring for them in Atlanta, assisting organizations in Florida, and even propagating existing coral from our exhibits to learn from them and continue to understand ways to protect these incredible animals.
Want to get involved? There are a few things you can do to help save our ocean’s coral:
- Be sure to use reef-friendly sunscreen.
- Recycle and dispose of trash properly.
- Use less impactful modes of transportation.
- Practice safe and responsible diving and snorkeling.
- Save energy at home and at work; reduce your carbon emissions wherever and whenever you can.
- Spread the word!
Remember: coral is an animal, not a plant! They shouldn’t be touched or removed if you see them in the ocean!
To learn more about Georgia Aquarium’s efforts to save coral, please visit our website.
Georgia Aquarium is a leading 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Atlanta, Ga. that is Humane Certified by American Humane and accredited by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Georgia Aquarium is committed to working on behalf of all marine life through education, preservation, exceptional animal care, and research across the globe. Georgia Aquarium continues its mission each day to inspire, educate, and entertain its millions of guests about the aquatic biodiversity throughout the world through its engaging exhibits and tens of thousands of animals across its eight major galleries.