Coral is a fascinating organism that lives in tropical waters around the world. The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium has a partnership with the SECORE Foundation, an organization that focuses on coral conservation initiatives. Currently, the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium’s Marine Invertebrate Aquarist, Bob Snowden, has traveled to the beautiful Caribbean island of Curacao, Netherlands-Antilles to do some very important work for the coral conservation efforts.
The main focus of the trip is for Snowden to share his expertise and train a new PhD student from the University of Amsterdam. The student will be working for the SECORE Foundation to manage and care for SECORE’s coral nursery at the Curacao Sea Aquarium.
During the first two days of the trip, Snowden and SECORE officials were able to see the rarely documented day-spawning of the Grooved Brain Coral, Diploria labyrinthiformis. They were able to collect some of the reproductive cells from the coral, known as gametes, which were released in the spawning process. The gametes were then fertilized in the SECORE lab. The team has been tracking the embryonic development of the gametes. This is valuable information, as the development of this species in the embryonic stages is poorly understood.
Check back for more updates in the coming days about the trip and the coral conservation efforts in Curacao.