Due to the impacts of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease and warming ocean temperatures, the Association of Zoos and (AZA) initiated the Florida Reef Tract Rescue Program in partnership with Florida Coral Rescue. These programs are a network of museums, universities, AZA associated facilities, and other institutions that rescue endangered corals from Florida’s Coral Reef and maintain them in their facilities. Rescue began in 2018, and information on species, the location they were rescued from, and the current holding facility can be found on the Coral Monitoring Dashboard.

Dendrogyra cylindrus (pillar coral) is one of the species in this program. Though once prevalent throughout Southeast Florida, Pillar coral is considered functionally extinct in Florida. They grow very slowly and will take 144 years to reach 6ft. At Frost Science we care for these rare corals with plans to propagate and eventually restore them to the reefs.

Frost Science has been at the forefront of caring for pillar coral during these rescue efforts. We helped develop the techniques and standard methods of care used across partner institutions.

The Frost Science Husbandry team is caring for more than 120 pillar coral specimens, spanning over 60 unique genotypes, some of which are extinct in the wild. Two of the newest colonies under our care were recently discovered in Biscayne National Park. Read more about these additions to the pillar coral gene bank here and come see them in person at the Marine Conservation WetLab!