SECORE Fieldwork

The island of Curacao still has healthy Elkhorn corals that spawn every year during the once a year spawning event. This event usually takes place between the third and seventh night after the first full moon in August. SECORE has a team who works together to be out on the reef when this takes place. When corals are found that are getting ready to spawn, team members carefully net the colonies and collect the egg-sperm bundles (gametes) that are released. These gametes are taken back to the lab where they are separated and cross fertilized with gametes from other non-related colonies. Once fertilized, the embryos are put into specially designed kreisel tanks developed by the John G. Shedd Aquarium and the collaborating institutions for grow out into larvae. After around 72 hours, the larvae are ready to settle. They are given the proper substrate which, for us, are pre-cultured with biofilms that give the larvae the proper chemical cues to initiate settlement. Once settled, the larvae will undergo metamorphosis into a primary polyp. These primary polyps will then start to divide asexually and start a new, genetically diverse, coral colony.