(OAK BROOK, Ill.) — Great Lakes Dredge & Dock (GLDD) on Thursday announced its investment in The Florida Aquarium’s coral conservation and restoration work. The aquarium’s coral scientists will benefit from a two-year gift underwritten by Great Lakes.
“Conservation efforts rely on research and development to be successful,” said Roger Germann, president and CEO of The Florida Aquariumd. “The level of R&D we are engaged in to save the Florida Reef Tract has significant financial impact to our organization. The benefit from GLDD’s investment in our research means we can do more to save corals from extinction.”
Since 2014, The Florida Aquarium has positioned their research and resources to protect and restore Florida’s threatened coral population. Five years into the program, the aquarium’s coral experts led the largest outplanting of genetically diverse Caribbean staghorn coral in Florida’s history. Then in August of 2019, The Florida Aquarium became the first to spawn endangered Atlantic pillar coral through lab-induced techniques. These historic events could ultimately help save corals in the Florida Reef Tract from extinction.
Great Lakes has been a leader in the building and maintenance of the nation’s navigation system, the protection of shorelines, the restoration of sensitive habitats, and the creation of critical aquatic infrastructure. In Hillsborough County, Great Lakes successfully completed the Port Tampa Bay deepening and widening project of Big Bend Channel, allowing larger ships into port.
“Last year we finished our work with Port Tampa Bay which created a bird habitat where at least 11 different species of shorebirds are now nesting," said Lasse Petterson, chief executive officer for Great Lakes. "Our business is focused on ensuring that our nation’s shorelines are protected and potential risks associated with storms and sea change are mitigated. Our people seek and develop technical innovations so that our work can be completed efficiently and responsibly. Great Lakes regards the protection of the environment as a core value, and we conduct all work activities so that adverse effects on the environment are avoided or minimized. It’s fitting that we invest in the port’s next door neighbor, The Florida Aquarium, to fund the research being done to save Atlantic coral.”
The Florida Aquarium employs several coral scientists who focus on ex-situ coral brood-stock holding (parent corals that are used for culturing more corals), spawning (both lab-induced and in the greenhouses), and for grow-out (rearing) the cultured corals until they are ready to be replanted in the ocean for restoration purposes. This two-year, six figure gift will provide funding for the scientists and associated operating expenses.