Seattle—When most people think of a nursery, it’s a cozy place full of cuddly babies or baby animals. Although a coral nursery may not give you those warm, fuzzy feelings, its importance cannot be denied!
For many years, the Seattle Aquarium has grown our own corals to prevent them from being removed from the wild. We’re also able to share surplus corals with other zoos and aquariums to reduce the impact our industry has on wild coral populations. The Aquarium sometimes receives donations from the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife when corals are illegally imported into the United States.
Our coral “farm” has traditionally been located behind the scenes, out of view of our guests. Now, as we prepare for our expansion and begin growing corals for the habitats in our new Ocean Pavilion building, which will be centered on marine environments in the region known as the Coral Triangle, we’re sharing a peek at our coral propagation program and drawing more awareness to importance of coral conservation.
The Ocean Pavilion will showcase several large, living coral habitats. And, although it isn’t slated to open until 2024, coral grows slowly—so we need to begin the growth process early. Although fast-growing corals have been selected, they still need three to four years to grow before going in the new exhibits-to allow plenty of time for the colonies to grow to appropriate size.
Unlike the other habitats in the Aquarium’s Pacific Coral Reef exhibit, the coral nursery will not try to replicate a natural reef environment. Instead, it will display living corals in an aquaculture setting where shelving supporting the corals, as well as other life support features typically hidden from view, will be on full display. and to use the exhibit to help engage our guests about coral growing techniques, and the role of coral aquaculture in wild coral conservation.
Visitors can now see the new coral nursery—plus colorful tropical fish, sea otters, shorebirds, jellies, tide pool animals and more—in person at the Seattle Aquarium. We’re open daily, 9:30am–6pm. Advance ticket purchase and masks required. Learn more at SeattleAquarium.org/tickets.