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Project Coral: the story so far

The Horniman Aquarium became the first institution globally to purposefully reproduce broadcast coral in captivity in 2013. 

Nine corals, transplanted from Australia's Great Barrier Reef in 2015, have spawned nearly 130,000 eggs at the Horniman, resulting in a UK first – the successful in-vitro fertilisation of captive corals.

This video shows the spawning - watch the film or read about what happened.

 

Our approach

In the purpose-built aquarium laboratories at the Horniman, Project Coral uses microprocessor technologies to investigate the influences of the lunar cycle, diurnal changes, seasonal temperature changes, solar irradiation patterns and nutritional input on gamete (egg and sperm) production and release.

In 2018, the Horniman will be celebrating the International Year of the Reef with a programme of activities including a blog series, talks, displays, and special events. International Year of the Reef seeks to raise awareness of the plight of coral reefs and to promote partnerships and cooperation in conserving and sustaining these incredible ecosystems.

Small organisation, big aims

We have made huge progress, especially in light of our small size and limited resources. Project Coral employs a small team and works in collaboration with international partners including the SECORE Foundation (Germany) and S.E.A. Aquarium at Resorts World Sentosa (Singapore). Our work will enable us:

  • To assess the impact that climate change is having on the resilience of broadcast corals and their ability to reproduce.
  • To use sexual reproduction to develop viable techniques for the sustainable aquaculture of coral.
  • To develop protocols to reliably spawn broadcast coral in captivity.

 

A Breakthrough

Along with researchers from the University of Derby, the team at the Horniman Museum and Gardens have induced coral spawning over a full reproductive cycle for the first time by successfully maintaining the environmental conditions of coral reef environments in closed system aquariums.

By replicating the environmental conditions, including temperature, lunar, and migration cycles, found at the location of the parent colonies of the Horniman's corals, the team has been able to synchronise coral spawning to be simultaneous with that of the parent colony.

With the Horniman now able to accurately predict and induce spawning in captive corals, the Florida Aquarium will adopt these techinques and practices to reproduce coral on a greater scale.   

Find out more about our Aquarium Curator Jamie's research.

Contact our team

We would be delighted to discuss Project Coral or how you can support this unique project. For further information, please contact:

Jamie Craggs,
Aquarium Curator
jcraggs@horniman.ac.uk
+44 (0)20 8291 8715 

We Need Your Support

Project Coral depends on the support of our partners and dedicated individuals to carry out this vital work.

With your help, we can expand our studies to develop a Northern latitude reef and Southern Latitudinal reef, allowing the study of a broader spectrum of environmental conditions that play a role in inducing coral reproduction.