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Today, SeaWorld Orlando unveiled its all-new SeaWorld Coral Rescue Center, the first of its kind to be made accessible to park guests, who which will serve as a vital hub for coral preservation, as well as a crucial platform for public engagement and education about Florida's reef crisis.
Following a VIP ribbon-cutting ceremony—attended by esteemed members of the state’s conservation and rescue communities, as well as local, state and national lawmakers—the Rescue Center’s doors opened to receive those park-goers who were among the first to marvel at the hundreds of living coral colonies in their purpose-built environment.
The fully-functional, guest-facing coral facility’s 3,750-gallon nursery is located within the park’s existing 'SeaWorld Rescue Center' that's situated near Dolphin Stadium, and is now home to 350 thriving coral colonies, consisting of 15 different at-risk species, several of which are also classified as “threatened” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
SeaWorld’s new Coral Rescue Center provides the public with a unique opportunity to observe and interact with teams of experts as they carry out the daily work of caring for and cultivating coral colonies. With today’s launch, this state-of-the-art laboratory becomes one of the country’s largest public-facing facilities dedicated to coral conservation and reef recovery.
SeaWorld has a longstanding relationship with the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida and, by extension, the Florida Coral Rescue Center (FCRC). The entertainment company partnered with these organizations to develop the SeaWorld Coral Rescue Center initiative and make it a first-ever reality.
Living coral specimens housed inside SeaWorld Orlando's Coral Rescue Center. (Source: SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment)
FCRC is a dedicated response network created to contend with an ongoing crisis affecting the entire Florida Reef Tract. The rapid spread, extended duration and unprecedented reach of a blight called Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD), a highly lethal ailment that bears a mortality rate of up to 100 percent, is having devastating effects on multiple species. Scientists have yet to determine the cause of SCTLD and researchers are still investigating strategies to treat diseased colonies.
The SeaWorld Coral Rescue Center's population of corals were selected and transferred from the Florida Coral Rescue Center's own specialized facilities for continued comprehensive care by world-class SeaWorld’s team of expert biologists, with the Center also serving as an ancillary holding facility for FCRC’s protected population of vulnerable corals.
By collaborating with these organizations to protect and care for such corals, with the eventual goal of repopulating the Florida Reef Tract, the SeaWorld Coral Rescue Center is contributing to the long-term conservation of these fascinating little animals, which are so very critical the health and viability of the world's oceans.
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Laurie Baratti is a San Diego-based journalist whose work has previously appeared in publications like TravelAge West, SPACE,...
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