A team from the Mote Marine Laboratory has evacuated thousands of stressed corals from four nurseries off the coast of Florida.
The move came after an unprecedented marine heatwave that saw the water temperature exceed 100 degrees F/37.8 degrees C, significantly above the 87F threshold that corals can tolerate.
Six Mote research vessels headed to the nurseries and evacuated the corals before they sustained permanent damage. In total more than 70 staff members, in conjunction with support from the local community, worked tirelessly to save the corals and transport them to its land-based locations in Summerland Key, Key Largo and Islamorada.
Commenting on the operation, Mote President and CEO Michael Crosby stated:
“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.
“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.”