This summer, a historic heatwave caused widespread coral bleaching and mortality on Florida’s Coral Reef. In response, Coral Restoration Foundation™ (CRF™) moved thousands of their corals out of their ocean-based nurseries and away from the fatally hot water.
The organization has now started the monumental task of returning the survivors to their ocean-based nurseries. This move represents renewed hope for the future of coral reefs in the face of the extraordinary environmental challenges presented by climate change.
High winds and heavy seas meant that this first wave almost didn’t happen this week. But the CRF™ team were able to take advantage of a short weather window on Monday, October 30th, to get the corals home while still ensuring the safety of their crew.
In this first round of coral returns, 362 non-Acroporid corals, including boulder and star corals, and a very small selection of staghorn and elkhorn corals, were brought back to the CRF™ Coral Tree nursery. These corals have now been placed in a quarantine section where they will be closely monitored for 30 days. This is to ensure that these animals do not bring any disease vectors into the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. After they have passed the observation period, these corals will once again be incorporated into the CRF™ restoration program, with some moving into production to become the reefs of tomorrow and some replenishing the CRF™ in-situ gene bank.
Close to a thousand corals are still at KML, with their return scheduled between the 20th and 30th of November, pending a clean bill of health from the vet and clearance from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).