The Florida Aquarium coral breeding program expands, focuses on heat-resilient offspring
Image via Florida Aquarium

Elkhorn from Reef Renewal USA
Elkhorn coral were already in trouble. Ocean warming is making it worse.

As record-breaking ocean temperatures continue to threaten coral, the Florida Aquarium has relocated 20 elkhorn colonies from the Florida Keys to its breeding program in Apollo Beach.

Elkhorn coral is one of the most important corals in the Caribbean, creating with other important coral species dense thickets within coral reefs that provide important habitat for reef animals and fish. 

Elkhorn was already in trouble, with a severe disease in the 1980s reducing its population to just 3% of its former abundance, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA notes the greatest threat to elkhorn coral currently is ocean warming, which causes it to release algae that live in the species’ tissue and provide food to the coral. 

Restoration groups donated corals to minimize their loss and contribute to the next generation of elkhorn coral born at the Florida Aquarium.

For the first time, the coral conservation program will work to produce more heat-tolerant offspring as part of the DARPA Reefense project in partnership with the University of Miami and others. 

The two-week spawning season that began August 1 with the full moon provides hope in the efforts to protect and restore the threatened species.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


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