The “Silver Linings” of Illegally Trafficked Corals

(p. D4) Corals are not plants: They are tiny invertebrates that live in vast colonies, forming the foundation of the world’s tropical reefs. Marine life traffickers hammer and chisel them off reefs in places like Indonesia, Fiji, Tonga, Australia or the Caribbean, then pack them into small baggies of seawater so they can be boxed up by the hundreds and shipped around the world. While most coral is shipped into the United States legally, individuals and wholesalers, growing in number, are being intercepted with coral species or quantities that are restricted or banned from trade, often hidden inside shipments containing legal species.

. . .

Corals are better left in the wild, experts say, but there are silver linings after illegally trafficked specimens are confiscated and properly cared for by experts. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a confiscated coral if you’ve visited some aquariums.

Walk past the Indo-Pacific Barrier Reef exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium, for instance, and you can view a Turbinaria coral that was confiscated in 2005, shortly after Ms. Stone joined the aquarium.

It took years for the Turbinaria to recover, but now the colony has grown to more than 2.5 feet in size under her care and taken on a shape like a giant eye.

For the full story see:

Jason Bittel. “Mobilizing a Network to Save Marine Corals.” The New York Times (Tuesday, June 25, 2024): D4.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date June 24, 2024, and has the title “Unlikely Wild Animals Are Being Smuggled Into U.S. Ports: Corals.”)

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