Marhaver Lab/Creative Coral Science for Reef Recovery

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The challenge:

A healthy ocean depends on healthy coral reefs. Coral reefs cover less than one percent of the seafloor, yet they house approximately 25% of all species in the ocean. They are also vital to our global economy. Coral reefs are worth $1 Trillion USD per year through fisheries production, drug discovery, shoreline protection, and the creation of tourism jobs. However, compounding stressors – especially coastal development, overfishing, sewage input, fertilizer runoff, and temperature shock – are causing critical declines in the reproductive output and genetic diversity of coral populations.

10 Species of coral juveniles raised by the Marhaver lab

What can be done?

To complement coral conservation on the policy scale, innovative technical solutions are needed at the reef scale to pioneer new methods to save our reefs and the ecosystems they support.

How Marhaver Lab is meeting the challenge:

The Marhaver Lab is a marine biology research lab based in Curaçao. By studying reproduction in the Caribbean’s most fragile corals and inventing new tools to help them survive, the Lab pioneers methods so that everyone can grow more corals, faster. This includes decoding the reproductive behavior of understudied species through traditional natural history and combining advanced methods from diverse fields of science and engineering. The Marhaver Lab also hosts students from around the world for projects in coral ecology, reproduction, and restoration. Working at the leading edge of coral science, the Lab recently partnered with the Smithsonian Mote Marine Lab and the Florida Aquarium to achieve the first assisted gene flow in Caribbean corals, and the first fertilization of the threatened Elkhorn Coral Acropora palmata using cryopreserved sperm. This breakthrough creates powerful new tools for coral conservation, gene banking, and reef restoration.

This project aligns with the following Sustainable Development Goals

  • Quality education
  • Climate action
  • Life below water
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