News Release

Dry Tortugas National Park Rescues Corals Ahead of Coral Disease Outbreak

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Date: July 5, 2019
Contact: Allyson Gantt, 305-242-7714
Contact: Antonia Florio, 305-242-7714

Key West, Fla. – Dry Tortugas National Park and partner agency scientists collected 410 corals within park waters from July 1–5. The coral rescue in the park is part of the Coral Rescue Project, a multi-agency effort that aims to collect healthy corals ahead of the Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease front.

Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease is an infectious, waterborne disease that has significantly impacted approximately half of the hard coral species on Florida’s Reef Tract. Collecting corals from Dry Tortugas National Park is crucial to the progress of the Coral Rescue Project because it is one of the few areas not yet affected by the disease.  

“We are grateful that the park is able to participate in this coral rescue effort to ensure our corals are preserved for future generations,” said Park Manager Glenn Simpson. “This effort would not be possible without the dedicated work of our partners.”

The collected corals are being transferred to the University of Miami - Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and will be placed in land-based aquaria to prevent them from becoming infected, to preserve genetic diversity, and to serve as breeding stock for future restoration activities.

Located 70 miles west of Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park protects one of the most pristine and diverse portions of the 360 linear mile long Florida Reef Tract, which is North America’s only barrier reef. The park is a popular recreation destination for snorkeling, diving, fishing and boating.

The park was originally established in 1935 as a national monument to protect historic Fort Jefferson. After being designated as a national park in 1992, the park’s purpose broadened to include the preservation of the diverse island and marine ecosystems of the Dry Tortugas.

Partners participating in the coral rescue effort at Dry Tortugas National Park included Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, The Nature Conservancy, University of Miami, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and NOAA Fisheries.

Learn more about the coral reefs of Dry Tortugas National Park:

Information about Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease and the response can be found at:



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Last updated: July 9, 2019

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