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Threatened Coral Reef Gets a Much Needed Transplant
A threatened coral reef off the coast of Florida’s Broward County received a staghorn coral transplant last week. Researchers at Nova Southeastern University’s (NSU) Oceanographic Center noted that this was the first time this specific reef has received coral. Along the Florida coast and globally reefs have previously benefited from nursery grown coral.
“This is the northernmost location on the planet for transplanted staghorn corals,” said Abby Renegar, a researcher and doctoral student, “Staghorn corals previously have been transplanted in the Florida Keys, Southeast Florida, and other tropical locations around the world.”
We’ve mentioned in other blogs that endangered and threatened wildlife are frequently raised in sanctuaries by humans and those humans will often wear puppets or dress up to resemble the animals. This is so animals raised in captivity that are eventually released into the wild will have an easier time adjusting to their new companions. It is highly unlikely researchers at the Oceanographic Center are donning staghorn coral suits and gloves to raise their threatened species but it makes for a humorous mental image.
Staghorn coral, which resembles the antlers of male deer, is listed as threatened by the ESA due to human factors like pollution, over-development and overfishing. The coral is also susceptible to damage from hurricanes and white band disease, NOAA says staghorn coral populations have declined “up to 98% throughout their range” since 1980 with some local reefs destroyed completely. The coral are genetically predisposed to bounce back from storms but are not able to do so from disease or complete annihilation. Their depleting population makes it difficult for them to reproduce healthily and in response researchers have taken to growing staghorn in labs.
NSU's Oceanographic Center grew 28 basketball sized corals in a year and half and then readied them for transport for divers to place in the reef. After transplant research assistants Abby Renegar and Keri O’Neil will keep tabs on the coral for a year and compare their growth to reef-raised coral.
“We’re looking for the factors that will help us develop strategies for growing these corals to restore reefs in Florida and around the world,” O’Neil said. “In land-based nurseries, we can control temperature and other conditions, which cannot be controlled on the reef itself.”
The fish that live in the reefs aren’t the only ones that stand to lose as the reefs disappear. Florida, which has 84% of the coral reefs in the United States, relies on them for the tourists they draw and to keep Floridians employed. NSU's statement estimates the reefs generate $6 billion from tourism alone and support 71,000 jobs.
1944: Camano Class Light Cargo Ship was laid down for the US Army as FS-289 at Wheeler Shipbuilding in Whitestone, NY.
1955 - 1963: Used as a cargo supply ship for the Texas Towers, a network of advanced radar stations located off the Eastern Seaboard. In 1957, Capt. Sixto Mangual was commander of the AKL-17 and in 1961 it was rechristened the USNS New Bedford. The New Bedford, sailing out of State Pier, was keeping vigil when Texas Tower No. 4 callapsed off the New Jersey coast during a January 1961 nor'easter.
2006: Design of the Tesla Turbine began on June 11, 2006. The Sea Bird was sold by Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service for commercial service.