The Coral Restoration Foundation has reported that corals they planted 14 months ago have successfully spawned in the wild, in Florida. These are the youngest nursery-raised and out-planted staghorn corals they have witnessed spawning to date, as well as the youngest to reach sexual maturity.
The team was led by University of Miami Associate Scientist Dana Williams, who observed the event and managed to harvest some eggs and sperm. The spawning colonies comprised of two different genotypes so the team cross-fertilized them, and have some of the resultant larvae at the University.
Elkhorn colonies were reintroduced to the site in 2015 as part of a NOAA SEFSC experiment, supported by Coral Restoration Foundation. This is a huge achievement for the team, their efforts, the Florida reefs, and wider reef conservation, especially as no wild colonies were observed spawning.
About Coral Restoration Foundation
CRF was formed in 2007 by Ken Nedimyer, a commercial fish collector and live rock farmer who, as a longtime resident of the Florida Keys, had seen, first-hand, the decline of the local reefs through the decades. He found Staghorn coral on his live rock, obtained permits to collect genetically diverse clippings of what was left of the wild colonies, learned how to farm them, and has been replanting ever since.
Having replanted corals spawn naturally in the wild is the culmination of 13 years of work to save the Florida reefs and a hugely positive step in saving them.
For more information visit coralrestoration.org