September 28, 2023
Florida Aquarium reproduces coral in a lab

Photo: Octavio Jones\ Tampa Bay Times



Southwest Florida Roundup

Florida Aquarium reproduces coral in a lab

Art Levy | 10/25/2019


OK Coral

The Florida Aquarium reproduces coral in a lab.

Scientists at Tampa’s Florida Aquarium, after more than two years of research, have successfully induced the spawning of pillar coral in a lab. The experiment’s success offers hope for the future of the Florida Reef, a tract of coral that stretches along Florida’s southeast coast from Martin County to the Florida Keys.

The reef’s coral has been in decline in recent years because of multiple factors, including a disease called bleaching that scientists say is being exacerbated by acid-ification and a warming Atlantic Ocean.

The ability to reproduce coral in a lab will enable researchers to relocate the coral to the ocean in an attempt to prevent the pillar coral from becoming extinct. Roger Germann, the aquarium’s president and CEO, called the lab spawning a “scientific breakthrough.”

“While many coral experts didn’t believe it could be done, we took that challenge to heart and dedicated our resources and expertise to achieve this monumental outcome,” Germann says. “We remain fiercely committed to saving North America’s only barrier reef.”

The aquarium’s researchers are also collecting staghorn and elkhorn coral gametes in hopes of inducing those varieties to reproduce in the lab. Nova Southeastern University’s Oceanographic Center also is working to grow staghorn coral that can be transplanted onto the reef.


  • Lakeland and Auburndale, in cooperation with the Central Florida Development Council, are creating the Central Florida Innovation District, which the cities will use to steer development to the areas around Florida Polytechnic University and the SunTrax autonomous vehicle research center.
  • Construction company EHC is moving its headquarters from Naples to a campus in Fort Myers.


  • Florida Polytechnic University will offer engineering degrees in environmental engineering, engineering mathematics and engineering physics.
  • Hodges University in Fort Myers has appointed Anthony Gamboa vice president of information technology. He had been director of information technology at Wilbur Wright College in Illinois.


  • Bonita Springs officially opened its 31,000-sq.-ft. public library.


  • Shriners Healthcare for Children in Tampa, which no longer provides in-patient care to children, has reached an agreement with Tampa General Hospital, which will perform needed surgeries to Shriners-affiliated children. Shriners continues to provide out-patient care.


  • The 123-room Karol Hotel being developed by Tampa-based Mainsail Lodging & Development is to open by the end of the year in Clearwater.
  • Construction is underway on a 145-room Hyatt House extended-stay hotel near Tampa International Airport. The 103- room Staybridge Suites Naples- Marco Island has opened in Naples.


  • Fleda Pharmaceuticals plans to open a manufacturing facility in Pasco County. The 30,000-sq.- ft. factory, located in Odessa, will employ 30 and make gummy vitamin supplements.


  • Developers of Midtown Tampa, a $550-million mixed-use development, announced that F45 Training, a gym franchise backed by actor Mark Wahlberg, will be part of the development, along with the Tampa Bay area’s largest Whole Foods Market.


  • Online car seller Carvana plans to build a $47-million, 200,000-sq.-ft. distribution center and warehouse in Haines City, where it will employ 400.


  • Sarasota’s Bobby Jones Golf Club will be downsized from 45 holes to 36 — 27 regulation holes and a nine–hole short course.


  • St. Petersburg is using a high-tech tool to fix aging, leaking sewer pipes. The city is paying $600,000 to a Pennsylvania company to operate a team of underground autonomous robots that will search for leaks amid the city’s 4.7-million linear feet of gravity sewer lines. The foot-long, torpedo-shaped RedZone Robotics robot, called the Solo, propels itself and uses video cameras to inspect the pipes.


  • Baker McKenzie, an international law firm based in Chicago, has opened a support services center in Tampa. The center’s 120 employees, working in legal services, finance, IT, business development and other departments, will support the work of attorneys in 76 of the firm’s offices around the world. The center will eventually employ 300.


  • The Lee County Port Authority has started construction on an air traffic control tower at Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers. The new tower will cost $80 million.
  • The Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport will undergo a nearly $6-million taxiway overhaul. Much of the work will be paid for by a $4.6-million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration. The rest of the funding will come from Hernando County and the state.
  • Frontier Airlines has added routes to Atlanta; Newark, N.J.; and San Juan, Puerto Rico, from Tampa International Airport.
  • The LaBelle Municipal Airport has a new $5.6-million, 6,240-sq.- ft. terminal.


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