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Have a HeaRT: Coral Crisis 2023

an ongoing marine heat wave.The vibrant and delicate ecosystem of Florida’s Coral Reef is facing an unprecedented challenge this year due to an ongoing marine heat wavee. In response to this crisis, coral reef restoration practitioners across the state have launched efforts to relocate corals from the water to land-based facilities for thorough care until waters cool. While many of these researchers are experts in caring for corals in the ocean, land-based care requires a different skillset.

Enter HeaRT: the Heat Response Team. A united public-private partnership among the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), NOAA, FWC, and our foundation aims to lend a helping hand to coral care centers like the Keys Marine Laboratory (KML). Coral aquarists are arriving in waves (pun-intended) to assess the state of rescued corals and determine the care needed to keep them healthy..

Thanks to our foundation funding their travel, the first team arrived at KML on Sunday, led by Justin Zimmerman, zoological supervisor of aquariums at SeaWorld Orlando and supervisor at the Florida Coral Rescue Center. Upon arrival at the facility, Justin reported that overall coral health was fair, and in most cases better than anticipated. In the coming weeks, Justin and others will be working with the KML staff to ensure these corals will survive.

The response required to combat this thermal crisis has never been witnessed before. We invite you to become a part of this remarkable journey to save our corals. By donating to our Restore Our Reefs fund, you can directly aid in the care and preservation of the corals that form the backbone of Florida’s Coral Reef.

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