Coral Conservation Program

Coral Conservation Program


The Florida Reef Tract is the third largest barrier reef in the world, stretching about 360 miles along the southeastern Florida coast.  Many stressors are leading to the decline of this reef including increasingly warmer and acidic water conditions, the die off of key symbiotic species and Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD).   While the cause of SCTLD is still unknown, it now spans almost the entirety of the reef and has affected 22 species of stony corals, many of which are suffering complete mortality.  In order to save the Florida Reef Tract, immediate, multi-faceted, and innovative actions must be implemented.



The Florida Aquarium’s Coral Conservation Program is effectively addressing the coral crisis by focusing its efforts on several interconnected strategies designed to: protect species that are approaching or are at risk of extinction in the wild; increase coral reproduction rates; advance coral health; and restore the Florida Reef Tract.









The Florida Aquarium has made coral reproduction history several times!   In 2020, we were the first to reproduce and film larvae of the Ridged Cactus Coral and in 2019, we were able to induce spawning of several species of Atlantic coral in a laboratory setting!  These ground-breaking, globally recognized, advancements facilitate our ability to increase the genetic diversity of coral offspring, conduct vital health research to improve coral care and husbandry techniques, and scale up coral propagation rates.



Other Success Stories:

  • Outplanted >3,000 staghorn & 200 elkhorn corals
  • Supplied coral larvae to researchers @ Nova Southeastern, Mote Marine Laboratory, Georgia Aquarium, SeaWorld & NOAA.
  • Shared gamete collecting techniques and assisted with formation of a coral nursery with the National Aquarium in Cuba.
  • Successfully rearing long-spined sea urchins from gametes to juveniles.
  • Successfully raised first batch of corals produced with cryopreserved sperm from different regions of the Caribbean.
  • Greatly expanding our coral reproduction capacity. 
  • The Florida Aquarium has joined with Biscayne National Park in an Aquarium-Park Partnership (APP) for America’s Keystone Species, as part of a wider project involving the National Park Service (NPS) and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The APP aims to “measurably improve wildlife population health, numbers, genetic integrity and habitat, while fostering the acceptance and stewardship of wildlife living amongst local communities.” Our partnership focuses on rescuing, rearing, & outplanting genetically diverse corals to restore reefs at Biscayne National Park that are damaged by disease, overfishing, climate change, degraded water quality, marine debris, and other stressors. Currently, The Florida Aquarium is raising mountainous star coral juveniles collected by NPS scientists from the 2019 and 2020 wild spawns. These corals will be raised in our greenhouses until they are large enough for us to work with NPS to return them to the reefs of Biscayne National Park.


The Florida Aquarium uses a comprehensive conservation approach that amplifies our expertise, leverages partnerships, and maximizes the ability to successfully protect corals and restore the Florida Reef Tract.  This work cannot be done alone and we are proud to partner with the following agencies and organizations!