Scientists seek to develop hybrid coral reef off of Miami

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. hybrid / ˈhaɪ brɪd / (adj.) – produced from two different kinds of plants or animals

    Researchers are trying to develop hybrid crops that can survive in dry seasons.

  2. spawn / spɔn / (v.) – to produce eggs in water

    My pet fish spawned last night. I’ll be selling its babies after two months.

  3. resilient / rɪˈzɪl yənt / (adj.) – able to go back to the original shape or form after being bent, stretched, or pressed

    Bamboo is an extremely resilient type of grass that can survive earthquakes and flooding.

  4. colony / ˈkɒl ə ni / (n.) – a group of living things such as plants, animals, or insects that grow together in the same place

    I found a colony of ants in our garden.

  5. simultaneously / ˌsaɪ məlˈteɪ ni əs li / (adv.) – in a way that’s happening at the same time

    The classroom was so noisy because the students were speaking simultaneously.


Read the text below.

Scientists and students from the University of Miami dove into the dark waters a few miles off the shores of Miami as part of an effort to develop hybrid reefs.

The team from the Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science was on a mission to collect eggs and sperm from spawning staghorn coral, which they hope to use to fertilize other strains of staghorn corals in a lab.

It’s all part of a $7.5 million federal grant from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to help address security threats to the military and civilian infrastructure along vulnerable coastal regions in Florida and the Caribbean.

The Miami-based project seeks to protect coastal bases from damaging hurricane storm surge using hybrid reefs.

“Our mission is to develop hybrid reefs that combine the wave-protection benefits of artificial structures with the ecological benefits of coral reefs,” said Andrew Baker, a professor and director of the Coral Reef Futures Lab at the Rosenstiel School. “We will be working on next generation structural designs and concrete materials, and integrating them with novel ecological engineering approaches to help foster the growth of corals on these structures.”

They will also be testing new adaptive biology approaches to produce corals that are faster-growing and more resilient to a warming climate, he said.

Coral spawns just a few nights every year, depending on water temperature and lunar cycle. Coral colonies simultaneously release their eggs and sperm into the water column, which fertilize one another to create baby coral.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • One of the goals of developing hybrid coral reefs is to protect the coastal bases from damaging waves. Do you think it is necessary to experiment on species to protect human life? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Aside from corals that are faster growing and more resilient to a warming climate, what other adaptive biology approaches do you think scientists should study (ex. how to produce bigger fruits and vegetables, how to make dirty water clean)? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • What do you think of developing or creating hybrids of species (ex. acceptable, unethical)? Discuss.
  • Hybrids are created by combining two different species. Some examples of these are liger (a combination of lion and tiger) and pomato (a combination of potato and tomato). If you could make a hybrid of two species, what would they be? Why? What would you call it? Discuss.