For the first time, rough cactus coral cared for by SeaWorld at the Florida Coral Rescue Center (FCRC) funded by Disney Conservation Fund and the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida produces hundreds of offspring signaling a bright future for this endangered species

Rough cactus corals are brooders, meaning the embryos fertilize within the coral colony and are released as free-swimming larvae. A few days after their release from the parent colony, the larvae settle on hard surfaces like the small tiles that FCRC aquarists have placed near them in their nursery ponds, where they will attach and begin to transform. in corals. As a rule, this species broods in the ocean from December to March.

“These descendants are very important for the future of this endangered species and for the health of our oceans, said Jim Kinsler, Facilities Director of the Florida Coral Rescue Center and Curator of Aquariums and the Wild Arctic at SeaWorld. “Our team of experts understand that the work we do is essential in protecting an entire ecosystem and ensuring that these corals survive and thrive to be part of a healthy and abundant population, future generations of coral enthusiasts. can enjoy when visiting florida coral reef.”

A large number of florida coral species had never been managed by humans before. All 18 FCRC species are affected by SCTLD in nature. FCRC colonies were collected by the FWC from 2019 to 2020 before the disease boundary.

Although this is the largest holding facility within the AZA-FRTRP, the FCRC is now at maximum capacity and more space is needed as the corals are healthy and growing, and it’s time to start raising them.

Millions of corals affected as SCTLD sweeps reefs with mortality rates of up to 100% for sensitive species

SCTLD wiped out entire swathes of reefs as it spread Florida and the reefs of Caribbeanincluding Jamaica, Mexico, Saint-Martinthe Dominican Republic and the US Virgin Islands. It first appeared off the coast of Florida in 2014. florida coral reefwhich stretches over 360 miles of florida Martin County at the Dry Tortugas, was particularly hard hit with millions of corals impacted. SCTLD has a mortality rate of up to 100% for sensitive species on some reefs.

The presence of environmental stressors, such as rising ocean temperatures, pollution exposure, and physical damage, has likely made some species more susceptible to disease that causes coral mortality through tissue loss. No cure for the disease has yet been identified.

“As work continues to better understand and control this disease, we have made the difficult decision to remove healthy corals from the front of the disease frontier and place them in land-based facilities like the FCRC to prevent them. to be infected, to preserve genetic diversity, and to propagate them for restoration,” said Gil McRae, director of the FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. “A large number of offspring produced by rescued corals will be essential for the restoration of florida coral reef. These vulnerable rescued corals are thriving under the expert care of the FCRC team and the offspring produced by these corals will greatly aid in restoration efforts. »

Coral reefs are among the most diverse and valuable ecosystems on the planet. Globally, they are home to more species per unit area than any other marine environment, including around 4,000 species of fish, 800 species of hard corals and hundreds of other species. Scientists estimate that there could be millions of undiscovered species of organisms living in and around reefs. Coral reef structures also protect shorelines from 97% of wave, storm and flood energy, helping to prevent loss of life, property damage and erosion.

The FCRC provides world-class care and propagation needed to restore healthy reef systems

the OrlandoThe FCRC is a state-of-the-art facility established for gene banking and care of Florida corals saved from reefs in response to sweeping SCTLD florida coral reef. It is part of a national network of coral holding facilities or genebanks coordinated by the AZA. It provides a safe and stable environment for coral colonies to receive world-class care from a team of coral experts and will play an important role in the future restoration of florida coral reef.

Led by the AZA, the FCRC partnership consists of resource management agencies FWC and NOAA Fisheries; SeaWorld Accredited Zoological Facility; and funding from the Disney Conservation Fund and the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida, among others. These partners provide the funding, resources and expertise needed to secure a future for florida corals.

About the Association of Zoos and Aquariums

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science and Hobbies. The AZA is the accrediting body for the best zoos and aquariums in United States and 11 other countries. Look for the AZA Accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium to ensure that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent animal care, a great experience for you, and a brighter future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your connection to help animals everywhere. To learn more, visit The AZA-FRTRP coordinates the collaborative efforts of AZA-accredited coral rescue facilities across the country. To learn more, visit

About SeaWorld Entertainment

SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: SEAS) is a leading theme park and entertainment company that delivers experiences that matter and inspires guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world. The company is one of the world’s leading zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, training, breeding and veterinary care. The Society collectively cares for what it considers to be one of the greatest zoological collections in the world and has helped advance animal care. The Society also rescues and rehabilitates sick, injured, orphaned or abandoned marine and land animals, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The marine world® The rescue team has helped over 39,000 animals in need over the company’s history.

About Disney Protection

Disney Conservation is committed to saving wildlife and building an inspired global community to protect the magic of nature together. Since 1995, the Disney Conservation Fund has directed $120 million to support non-profit organizations working with communities to save wildlife, inspire action and protect the planet. Disney Conservation Team Wildlife leads best-in-class science programs to conserve wildlife in Disney’s backyard and beyond, connecting people to create a network for nature. These efforts represent just a few of the many actions we are taking to put possibility into practice and inspire optimism for a better, more sustainable future through what we call Disney Planet Possible. To learn more, visit or follow @DisneyConservation.

About the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida

The Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and other public and private partners to conserve florida native animals and plants and the lands and waters they need to survive. Since its creation in 1994, the Foundation has raised and donated close to $55 million conservation, outdoor recreation and education. To learn more, visit

About the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)

FWC’s mission is to manage fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of people. To learn more, visit

About NOAA

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. To learn more, visit


Media contacts:
[email protected]
Association of Zoos and Aquariums
Rob Vernon, [email protected]301-244-3352
AZA – Florida Reef Rescue Project
Beth Firchau, [email protected]757-434-0745

SOURCE SeaWorld Parks & Recreation