Florida corals housed at National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium reveal new life

Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 10:47 PM CST
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium has been housing Florida corals for almost two years in an effort to protect them from a disease that has already killed many of them in the Florida Reef Track for over six years.

Marisa Foster, who works as a saltwater aquarist at the aquarium, said they feel like foster parents to these corals.

“We just care for them, we make sure that they are healthy we feed them, clean them, and monitor their progress,” Foster said. “We want to ideally help them grow so that way they are big enough to get implanted back in the ocean and help create that coral reef in Florida.”

While checking in on them, Foster said they noticed new life growing in the tanks: snails, crabs, sea stars, worms, and even baby corals.

“This is an ecosystem so, not only are these animals, but they are an entire ecosystem that are a house for other animals to live and it just really shows that when you are seeing it firsthand every day,” Foster said.

The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium was the first of its kind to house Florida corals when these were taken out of the Florida Reef Track to protect them against stony coral tissue loss disease. Foster said, once a coral is infected with the disease, there is a 90% chance it will die.

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