If you have dived the Florida Keys over the past decade, you may have noticed a decline in the health of the third largest coral reef in the world. It’s no surprise to marine biologists who work at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Summerland Key.
Here, scientists have been transplanting native corals from their original habitat to temporary holding tanks. While in these tanks corals are cut into smaller shapes, or fragmented which causes an amazing reaction. While not too surprising to reefkeeping enthusiasts who practice ‘fragging’ as a way to share their favorite corals with other collectors, Dr. Vaughn noticed a phenomenon where ‘micro-fragging’ produced much more amazing results. He noticed “that those one to three polyps were now five to seven polyps,” he said. “They not only had lived — they had grown and had doubled in size.” By fragging only a few polyps of the coral, instead of a dozen or more, he found the coral reproduced much more quickly.
With a huge $35,000 grant from the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, let’s hope the work at the Mote Marine Lab continues.
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