Saturday, October 16, 2021

Innovative Partnership Continues to Save Florida’s Corals

Submitted Photo

The nonprofit Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida announced the continuation of their partnership with Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund to save Florida’s coral reefs, including a pledge of $100,000 by the outdoor retailer for the coming year to support a long-term coral propagation facility in Orlando. 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), along with a host of other public and private organizations, launched a herculean effort last fall to fight Stony Coral Tissue-Loss Disease (SCTLD). SCTLD has rapidly spread to 90% of the 360-mile Florida Reef Tract, with whole-colony mortality approaching 100% for many of the 22 of the reef’s 45 species of stony corals. Recently it’s been found in several Caribbean islands, as well as the Mesoamerican Reef, second in size only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. 

Corals rescued in advance of the disease are being shipped to aquariums across the country, while long-term coral propagation facilities are built in Florida to raise resilient corals by the tens of thousands to replant the Florida reef. Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund gift supports one such facility in Orlando, the first to open. 

“We are proud to partner with the Foundation. Florida’s coral reefs support an incredible diversity of fish and other marine life. Working together we can better ensure the health of coral reefs for future generations,” said Bob Ziehmer, Bass Pro Shops Sr. Director of Conservation. 

Managed pro bono by SeaWorld and funded by Disney, AZA, Bass Pro Shops, the Edith and Curtis Munson Foundation, and the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida, the Orlando facility will serve initially as a waystation for rescued corals as they await transfer to AZA-member aquariums around the country. 

The nonprofit Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida is helping raise the $10 million needed to build new coral farms. “We are grateful to Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund’s ongoing commitment,” said Foundation CEO Andrew Walker. “They are essential to this innovative partnership that is working to restore Florida’s treasured coral reefs.” 

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