Fisher Island Hybrid Fused-Staghorn Coral (Elkhorn Morphotype) pre-dredge/ mid-dredge health survey
The most remarkable aspect of the health of the corals growing on Fisher Island, is the success story of two hybrid fused-staghorn corals (Acropora prolifera) that live along its shorelines. The story of the first hybrid coral is well documented through the TEDxMIA talk Colin conducted in 2011. This hybrid coral appears to be much more palmate in its growth morphology which typically means that its mother was a staghorn and its father an elkhorn. This coral has proven to be the most remarkably resilient of the Fisher Island Acropora corals. While its growth has been somewhat slow, it has never demonstrated any evidence of significant die-off, white pox, or bleaching. It also features significant amounts of fluorescent green proteins which may confer it with an adaptive advantage over its non-fluorescent parent species.
However, there is another equally unusual hybrid fused-staghorn coral living on Fisher Island that we’ve also been observing since 2009. And it demonstrates a much more compact branching staghorn morphology, indicating that its mother was likely an elkhorn coral and its father a staghorn.
Aerial view of Biscayne Bay and Government Cut. Fisher Island is encircled in the Army Corps’ Deep Dredge silt 4/14/15
Over the past eighteen months, the Army Corps of Engineers’ Deep Dredge of PortMiami has continuously released dirty water throughout Biscayne Bay and onto our surrounding reefs. The dredging will continue through at least August 2015. Over the course of the Dredge project we have observed levels of suspended silt far beyond what is environmentally acceptable or healthy in a coral reef environment. Silt that is directly causing coral mortality in areas far beyond where the Army Corps predicted.
One of Coral Morphologic’s biggest ongoing concerns during the Deep Dredge has been the well-being of a hybrid fused-staghorn coral (Acropora prolifera) colonizing the Fisher Island side of Government Cut. This coral is what kickstarted our interest in documenting the extent of coral colonization within Miami’s coastal waterways, and was the subject of Colin’s 2011 TEDxMIA talk ‘A Hybrid Future: The Corals of Miami‘. The concerns we expressed to the State of Florida about this coral is ultimately what led them to provide us with permits to rescue corals from the dredging far offshore… but not for the hybrid itself (or any other corals on Fisher Island).
‘Coral Morphologic TV’ debuted this past weekend at the Sagamore Hotel, on Miami Beach. The site-specific installation was commissioned by the Red Bull Guest House, and consists of 4 vinyl-wrapped outdoor televisions each playing the Coral Morphologic films ‘Natural History Redux‘ & ‘Circumtropical’ on loop.
Last month, our film ‘Natural History Redux‘ screened at the Imagine Science Film Festival held at New York University’s campus in Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi is located along the Arabian/ Persian Gulf as one of the coastal Emirates in the United Arab Emirates. Colin was asked to speak on a panel regarding the future of global water resources and the importance that art/ science has to play in bringing these issues into public awareness. However, he also had the opportunity to explore the unique marine habitat in the area.
We are very psyched to share ‘Coral City’, a half-hour documentary accompanying the Coral Morphologic cover story in last August’s VICE Magazine. The movie, directed by John McSwain and shot by Jake Burghart of VICE Media, documents our efforts to highlight the urban corals of Miami as resilient pioneers adapting to a rapidly changing world. Check out the online premiere over at The Creators Project.
The ‘Coral Therapy’ Design Curio at Design Miami/ 2014.
For Design Miami/ 2014, we were honored to be asked to create a conceptual room in which we debuted ‘Coral Therapy’, a 360-degree virtual reality film experienced via the Oculus Rift. When viewing ‘Coral Therapy’, the viewer is enveloped by fluorescent corals and sea anemones; much like being inside a virtual planetarium theater. ‘Coral Therapy’ is designed to convey a virtual out-of-body experience in which the viewer is transported to a tranquil tropical reef in outer-space. An original ambient score enhances the cosmic coral perspective while accentuating the peaceful and relaxing experience.
A fluorescence photograph of the hybrid fused staghorn coral.
It was the discovery of a hybrid fused staghorn coral living on a granite boulder beneath the shadows of a luxury condo that initially sparked our interest in the resilient corals that are taking advantage of Miami’s underwater infrastructure. Colin first presented this coral to the public for TEDxMIA in 2011 in a talk titled ‘A Hybrid Future – The Corals of Miami’. But with the Army Corps’ Deep Dredge of Government Cut happening just a stones throw from where this coral lives, we have been particularly concerned about the health of this coral. Not only are Miami’s corals being inundated with excessive dredge silt, they’re also dealing with the same water conditions that have induced an alarming percentage of corals to bleach across South Florida’s reefs.