Coral Spawning in the Florida Keys

coral photo
Mountainous Star Coral
babies cultured from captured spawn and
settled on artificial substrate
Each polyp is less than 1 mm diameter.
Shown under normal light

(Montastraea faveolata)
Photo Credit: NOAA SEFSC
(click photo for high resolution image)

coral photo
Mountainous Star Coral,
same individuals shown under fluorescent light

(Montastraea faveolata)
Photo Credit: NOAA SEFSC
(click photo for high resolution image)

NOAA's Southeast Fisheries Science coordinated a multi-institutional effort to document coral spawning August 26-September 1, 2010, in the upper region of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS).

Research
The research involved six vessels and about 30 divers.

Some pilot experiments were accomplished and the partner teams gained valuable field experience, building the overall capacity to study coral spawning and aquaculture for basic research and restoration.

Mountainous star coral
Mountainous star coral (Montastraea faveolata) spawned on August 31, but the intended culture of larvae was challenged by weather and poor fertilization success of the gametes collected. It is possible that the tremendous cold stress endured by Florida Keys corals during the past winter impaired their reproductive investment this year.

Elkhorn coral
Unfortunately, no spawning was observed during the predicted nights by the threatened elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata).

Partners
In addition to NOAA's SEFSC and FKNMS, participants included the following non-governmental organizations and academic partners:

Contact