Check out The Florida Aquarium’s latest conservation-minded expansion

The state-of-the-art facilities are set to help the aquarium’s conservation efforts.

A tank of coral at the Florida Aquarium's Coral Conservation and Research Center. There is blue fluorescent lighting above the tank and the coral sits in water.

The Florida Aquarium is in its sixth year of coral spawning.

The Florida Aquarium is no stranger to helping our waterways. TFA’s Coral Conservation Program has dedicated about eight years of work and research into protecting the ~360-mile Florida Reef Tract which spans the southeastern part of the Sunshine State.

Last week, leaders unveiled the aquarium’s latest conservation development: An expansion to the Coral Conservation and Research Center at the Apollo Beach Conservation Campus. The 4,200-sqft buildout almost doubled the size of the facility, which now spans ~9,000 sqft for researchers + biologists.

Here’s a breakdown of what happens at the center:

  • The center is the long-term home to 15 different species of coral, including some taken directly from the Florida Reef Tract.
  • As corals face threats in Florida, on-campus scientists are breeding the next generation of resilient corals.
  • The Florida Aquarium boasts the largest living collection of Atlantic pillar corals in the world, and is the only facility worldwide with the capacity to spawn and raise the species, which is seeing a rapid decline in the wild. In 2023, spawning efforts in the lab produced millions of coral babies.
  • Aquarium workers also traveled to the Florida Keys last year as part of an international effort to care for 5,000 relocated corals.

While the environmental necessity to protect reefs remains, the Sunshine State’s reef also has an estimated financial value of $8 billion, and also supports ~70,000 jobs.

Officials cut the ribbon at the Florida Aquarium's new expansion at their Coral Conservation Campus in Apollo Beach. There are four people holding a large pair of blue scissors as they cut the white ribbon, and a fifth person standing in the background. People are smiling.

The facility first opened back in 2016.

In a release, aquarium President and CEO Roger Germann called Florida’s coral reefs “essential to our health, our economy, and marine wildlife.” He added, “with the state-of-the-art facility, we are significantly increasing our restoration impact and providing hope for recreating a thriving reef.”

As corals provide habitats for 25% of all marine wildlife + serve to enhance water quality across the globe, the new expansion will help provide more protection for the crucial organisms which call our planet home.

If you want to help The Florida Aquarium on its conservation mission, they are always looking for volunteers.

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