Orlando (June 9, 2023) – SeaWorld today will unveil the grand opening of the SeaWorld Coral Rescue Center in Orlando alongside esteemed members from Florida’s conservation and rescue communities and local, state and national lawmakers. The opening of the Center marks another important moment in SeaWorld’s commitment to work in partnership to help save Florida’s Coral Reef. The fully functional, state-of-the-art rescue facility provides guests with a unique opportunity to observe and interact with coral biologists as they carry out daily husbandry for the “at-risk” Florida corals. These threatened corals were selected and transferred from the Florida Coral Rescue Center (FCRC) to the SeaWorld Coral Rescue Center for world-class care with the goal of being returned to the Florida reef as part of state and national restoration efforts. The reef is suffering from the devastating effects of stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) – a highly lethal disease with a mortality rate of up to 100 percent.
“The new SeaWorld Coral Rescue Center represents another significant commitment to protect and conserve coral reefs and the Center enables the public to get a close up look at our work as we provide exceptional care in a safe haven for vulnerable corals as the conservation community works together to restore our vital coral reef system,” said Jim Kinsler, Zoological Curator at SeaWorld Orlando and Manager of the Florida Coral Rescue Center in Orlando. “By raising awareness about the importance of corals and their role in the environment, we hope to ignite a passion for conservation in our visitors, empowering them to become ambassadors for the protection and preservation of Florida’s corals.”
SeaWorld Coral Rescue Center Serves as a Vital Hub for Coral Preservation and Education
Building on the success of the FCRC, the Coral Rescue Center at SeaWorld Orlando serves as an additional holding facility for these vulnerable corals. The Center is a 3,750 gallon fully-functional, guest-facing coral facility housing 350 coral colonies and 18 species of at-risk coral, several of which are listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Moreover, it will act as a crucial platform to educate and engage guests about the significance of coral reefs to sustaining healthy oceans.
Experienced coral biologists at the Center provide the rescued corals with expert care. This involves meticulous attention to water chemistry, flow, filtration and lighting to ensure the corals thrive. The Center also aims to preserve a natural environment by introducing reef cleaners such as fish, snails, crabs and sea urchins. These helpful creatures play a crucial role in cleaning algae from the corals and their surroundings, allowing for continued coral growth. To supplement their nutrient requirements, the SeaWorld biologists provide the corals with supplemental nutrients that they process for energy. Through these comprehensive care practices, the SeaWorld Coral Rescue Center contributes to the long-term conservation of corals.
“Corals are the rainforests of the ocean,” said Andrew Walker, Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida President & CEO. “In addition to providing a home for a quarter of all marine life, corals buffer our coastline from damaging storms and fuel our state’s economy. We’re grateful to SeaWorld for providing a space for these rescued corals to thrive and for the public to learn more about our partnership to restore Florida’s Coral Reef.”
Bringing Together the Public and Private Sector to Save the Reef
Critical to the recovery of the coral reef system is the partnership between the private conservation community and public sector lawmakers. Legislation aimed at safeguarding coral reefs along Florida’s coast, such as the Florida Coral Reef Protection Act and the Coral Reef Conservation Program, are instrumental in enacting protective measures and providing critical funding for restoration projects.
SeaWorld’s commitment to the Florida Reef Tract Rescue Program began in 2019 with the establishment of the FCRC. Selected due to its decades of extensive knowledge and expertise in coral, SeaWorld is one of 22 AZA-partners that has been chosen to facilitate and safekeep coral. In addition to maintaining rescued, healthy coral at the new SeaWorld Coral Rescue Center, SeaWorld is involved at the FCRC – the largest coral nursery in the country – providing world-class care for at-risk corals with the eventual goal of repopulating Florida’s Coral Reef.
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SeaWorld is a leading marine life theme park and accredited zoo and aquarium that provides experiences that matter while educating and inspiring guests of all ages to care about marine life. Welcoming millions of guests every year, the parks offer fun and enriching experiences from up-close animal encounters and year-round educational programs to award-winning marine-life themed rides and attractions, special events and exciting entertainment. For more than 60 years SeaWorld has advanced the conservation of marine life in and outside its parks through science, education, and exceptional animal care that is Humane Certified by American Humane and accredited by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. SeaWorld is one of the largest marine animal rescue organizations in the world, helping more than 40,000 animals to date. The SeaWorld Conservation Fund, a non-profit foundation established in 2003, has provided more than $20 million to nearly 1,400 organizations to advance critical research on every continent. A portion of park proceeds goes toward supporting these longstanding conservation commitments. SeaWorld parks are in Orlando, San Antonio, San Diego and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). SeaWorld is part of the SeaWorld Entertainment (NYSE: SEAS) portfolio of theme park brands. For more information, visit us at SeaWorld.com.