August 28, 2014
CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – The Texas State Aquarium is proud to announce its continuing involvement with leading coral conservation organization SECORE, or Sexual Coral Reproduction.
Earlier this month, SECORE invited Texas State Aquarium Aquarist Rafael Calderon to Punto Morelos, Mexico, to participate in its “Project Mexico.” The project is ongoing and is focused on coral reproduction and propagation, as well as the conservation of endangered habitat-building coral species, such as Elkhorn coral. Calderon explained that Elkhorn coral in particular is endangered due to human disturbances such as boat and jet ski usage, as well as excess nutrients in the water caused by river runoff.
Calderon said he and the other aquarists and scientists would collect gametes or eggs as they were released into the water, then take these eggs back to a lab for fertilization. “We let the coral larvae develop in containers, then give the larvae tiles on which to settle and begin growth,” he explained. “Next, they undergo metamorphosis and turn into polyps.” The coral will then be monitored until it reaches maturity, approximately two years, and then transplanted back into the ocean. Some developed coral will be kept in the lab so that it may be introduced into aquarium environments across the U.S.
Calderon said he was proud to represent TSA and eager to work with SECORE again. “Elkhorn coral is an important species. Not only does it provide habitats for other corals and ocean life, it also diffuses wave actions during storms,” Calderon stated. Calderon is the third aquarist from TSA chosen to work with SECORE.
Texas State Aquarium: Connecting people with nature and inspiring conservation of the Gulf of Mexico.
The Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.