The Horniman Museum & Gardens in London has teamed up with Singapore’s Resorts World Sentosa to spearhead a tandem experiment, which aims to achieve the simultaneous spawning of captive corals across two continents. This novel project is run by London’s Horniman Museum and Gardens, which boasts over 350,000 artefacts spanning a plethora of galleries which includes amongst others, natural history, anthropology and music. Resorts World Sentosa’s S.E.A aquarium in Singapore is co-piloting this project as well, making this collaboration an international trans-continental effort 6,736 miles apart.
The Horniman Museum and Gardens released an official press release as follows:
A collection of live corals has travelled from a South East Asian reef to a South East London aquarium, as part of a pioneering tandem experiment spanning 6,736 miles and two continents.
The study, run by the Horniman Museum and Gardens Aquarium in Forest Hill and the S.E.A. Aquarium at Resorts World Sentosa, aims to reproduce captive corals simultaneously in South London and Singapore.
Following their journey, the 14 specimens of Table coral, Acropora hyacinthus are now being kept behind the scenes at the Horniman’s Aquarium, in carefully-controlled conditions replicating those of their home reef. S.E.A. Aquarium are keeping a set of their own locally-sourced corals in the same conditions.
Jamie Craggs, Aquarium curator at the Horniman Museum and Gardens, says: ‘We’re hoping our new corals here will spawn, casting eggs and sperm into the surrounding water, at the same time as those at S.E.A. Aquarium – and crucially that this will happen simultaneously with the corals living wild on the original reef.’
The partnership also includes the SECORE Foundation, which is providing scientific support and updates from the Singaporean reef that the corals are from. The experiment will test whether the environmental controls being used in the Horniman’s wider Project Coral research are working, to replicate accurately the conditions of wild reefs, allowing researchers to predict when the captive corals will spawn. Project Coral aims to use this knowledge to manipulate captive coral spawning, to investigate the impact of climate change on coral reproduction.
Mathilde Richer de Forges, Senior Manager of Conservation, from S.E.A. Aquarium says: ‘Current research is limited to studying a single spawning event in the field. This collaboration will deepen our understanding of coral biology, and the predictive reproduction of corals under human care.’
Jamie Craggs says: ‘We believe Project Coral already achieved a world-first in 2013 – to purposefully induce broadcast coral spawning in captivity. If this new experiment is successful, it brings us one more step closer to a full understanding of coral reproduction, which we can then use to help secure the future of coral reefs.’
Best of luck to the Horniman Musem & Gardens, RWS’s S.E.A Aquarium and the SECORE foundation. We’ll be sure to keep our eyes and ears peeled for any updates on this exciting venture. A huge shout out to Jamie Craggs, Dr. James Guest, Aaron, Marguerite and the rest of the RWS aquarists for a fantastic job in collecting and conditioning the wild corals, as well as overseeing the successful and efficient transport back to London. Exciting times are ahead of us and it’s shaping up to be a fantastic year for fish and coral culture alike.