One year on, the Horniman Museum and Gardens is celebrating the success of its Project Coral captive breeding programme.

Corals ‘babies’ spawned in captivity are showing survival rates a thousand times higher than those spawned in the wild.

The news is a significant step for Project Coral in its work towards repairing the impact of climate change.

Jamie Craggs, the Aquarium Curator at the Horniman Museum and Gardens, was cautiously optimistic about the programme’s success so far.

Coral 'setting' Egg sperm bundles in the polyps r180 Coral Babies now Growing Well

“We’re pleased that our baby corals are doing well, ” he said. “But, we have a lot more work to do towards safeguarding the future of coral reefs.

“The threats to this incredibly rich and important habitat, and in particular the condition of the Great Barrier Reef, have been making headlines in the past year. There is certainly great cause for concern. But, the success so far of our research – and work by many others around the world – is cause for some ocean optimism that we can save coral reefs before it is too late.”

In December 2015, the Horniman Museum and Gardens became the first UK institution to cross-fertilise captive-spawned corals.

Scientists successfully triggered a spawning event in the lab where 130,000 eggs were released. They then carried out cross fertilisation to create thousands of free-floating larvae. Of those, 180 coral babies are now growing well, behind the scenes at the Horniman’s Aquarium. In contrast, only one in a million eggs spawned in the wild are believed to survive to adulthood.

While work continues behind the scenes, the public can now see some of the baby corals at the Horniman Aquarium. They are housed in a special show-tank dedicated to the work of Project Coral.

Images kind courtesy Jamie Craggs.

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