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Partners conduct conservation mission to combat coral disease

On April 6, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Chairman Robert Spottswood attended one of many trips researchers have been making to conserve Florida’s important coral reef ecosystem.

A network of scientists from the FWC, the Florida Aquarium, the Coral Restoration Foundation, NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the Keys Marine Lab, the University of Florida, Nova Southeastern University and Mote Marine Laboratory are working to combat the disease by introducing corals into specific locations.

The Florida Reef Tract is experiencing a multi-year outbreak of stony coral tissue loss disease. While disease outbreaks are not uncommon, this event is unique due to its large geographic range, duration and the number of species affected.

“Innovative partnerships like this are vital to this complicated mission,” Spottswood said. “The hands-on work of these experts is vital to strengthening our coral reefs and ensuring a positive future for this ecosystem.”

“The Florida Aquarium is staunchly committed to working closely with the FWC and our many other partners to address the coral crisis in the Florida Keys along the vital Florida Coral Reef Tract,” said Roger Germann, President & CEO of The Florida Aquarium. “We were honored to have FWC Chairman Spottswood join our team of coral experts and divers on the frontlines as part of the largest out-planting of genetically diverse Caribbean staghorn coral in Florida’s history.”

All research activities occurred under NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary permit.