SeaWorld Orlando has opened its Coral Rescue Center to park guests. It’s one of the largest public-facing facilities dedicated to coral conservation in the country.
Park guests could examine hundreds of living coral colonies and 15 different species, many of which are designated as endangered species. The Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida is the partner of the coral rescue center initiative.
The center’s corals were selected and transferred from the Florida Coral Rescue Center (FCRC) to the SeaWorld Coral Rescue Center 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, 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.”
The Coral Rescue 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.
SeaWorld has a longstanding relationship with Florida’s Fish & Wildlife Foundation. The SeaWorld Coral Rescue Center is an extension of the partnership on the FCRC, providing funds for the coral housing units that allow SeaWorld to house and care for the rescued 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.”
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.
For more information, park hours and to purchase tickets, visit SeaWorld’s website.