Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada currently has staff working in the field doing coral reef research and conservation on the beautiful island of Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. We are working together in conjunction with SECORE International and the CARMABI Foundation. We are also working closely with staff from the Vancouver Aquarium and Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.
Ripley’s Aquarium staff have been diving nearly every night to collect the gametes from the Caribbean Elkhorn Coral, Acropora palmata and the Caribbean Staghorn Coral, Acropora cervicornis. Both of these corals are listed on the IUCN Red list of endangered species as critically endangered. We have successfully fertilized their gametes and raised them to the larval stage. Eventually these new, genetically diverse baby corals will be put back out onto the reef for restoration research. They will be monitored for survivorship and growth over time. We are also making important observations on spawning times of other corals like the Massive Brain Coral, Colpophyllia natans, and will be working with the Grooved Brain Coral, Diploria labyrinthiformis. This data will help us better understand the timing of these spawning events.
Coral reefs are very sensitive, slow-growing communities that are currently facing multiple threats. Our aquarium supports the protection of these reefs rather than the displacement of them (almost all of our exhibits feature artificial coral). The decline of coral reefs will have a detrimental effect on the ecosystem over time as so many marine organisms depend on these reefs for shelter and habitats; that is why these coral reef research and conservation excursions are critical to the preservation of these vital life forms.