BIG PINE KEY, Florida — Scientists are transplanting up to 10,000 nursery-grown staghorn and elkhorn corals to degraded reefs in Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the largest marine restoration project of its kind. Experts hope that the transplanted young corals will thrive and reproduce, helping to recover populations of these two threatened species.
NOAA-funded scientists with The Nature Conservancy and partner organizations began growing staghorn and elkhorn corals at eight underwater nurseries located from Ft. Lauderdale south through the Florida Keys and U.S. Virgin Islands in 2009. The project initially aimed to grow 12,000 coral colonies, but instead raised 30,000 of the fast-growing branching corals. Up to 10,000 of these staghorn and elkhorn colonies, ranging from the size of tennis balls to soccer balls, are scheduled to be transplanted before the end of 2012.
Photograph by Tim Calver.