Mote saves thousands of endangered corals amidst extreme high-water temps

Published: Aug. 7, 2023 at 2:37 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The Suncoast is under another heat wave and water temperatures are higher than normal.

Florida’s Coral Reef has experienced record-breaking heat waves starting in July, with temperatures in adjacent backreef areas reaching temperatures above 100°F. When water stays over 87°F corals can become stressed and can expel the algae living in its tissues. These algae give coral its beautiful color, but they also provide the coral with food. Without it, the coral appear white, as if bleached. If they stressed for too long, the coral can die.

With the help of over 70 staff members, six Mote research vessels, and immense support from the Keys community, Mote was able to carefully transport thousands of stressed and dying corals from its offshore nurseries in Sand Key, Looe Key, Islamorada, and Key Largo, in a matter of days to its three land-based coral nurseries in Summerland Key, Key Largo, and Islamorada, as well as to its 200-acre Sarasota-based Mote Aquaculture Research Park.

Expert staff are working diligently to aid in the recovery of these stressed and dying corals with a goal of saving at least a portion of them despite exposure to the extreme water temperatures of over 90oF. 

“Mote has invested in science-based coral reef restoration and research in the Keys for nearly 30 years and, as such, we were equipped with the land-based infrastructure to provide tens of thousands of corals a safe place to grow until conditions improve on the reef,” said Dr. Michael Crosby, Mote President and CEO. “But, an evacuation this large, which to my knowledge has never been done before due to the sheer number of corals Mote has been able to produce and pre-position in offshore nurseries for subsequent restoration outplanting, would not have been possible without the continued strong support of the Keys community. We want to thank everyone who answered our calls for help without hesitation, in many cases in the middle of the night, and aided in this historic event.” 

You can donate and learn more here.