APOLLO BEACH, FLA. — Biologists with the Florida Aquarium are studying more than a dozen species of coral to help restore Florida's Reef Tract.
Florida's Coral Reef stretches from Dry Tortugas National Park west of the Florida Keys to the St. Lucie Inlet in Martin County.
Recently, the aquarium relocated 560 corals at an offshore reef site near Long Key, Florida.
Rachel Serafin, senior coral biologist, showed ABC Action News a greenhouse in Apollo Beach. She is studying nearly 17 species of coral. The greenhouse is a temperature controlled environment.
"They've actually been taken from the ocean to be archived so we have them in these closed systems and with that opportunity, we're able to study these animals and actually get them to reproduce," said Rachel Serafin.
Serafin said hurricanes, pollution and disease threaten the Florida Reef Tract.
"You have the reefs system which is home to many species of animals, fish whether it's part of their life cycle to live on the reef or they feed from things that come from the reef," added Serafin.
Coral biologists say so far, efforts to restore the reef tract have been successful. They will continue to monitor the offshore site. Coral reefs are a habitat for fish and provide coastal protection for communities.
They also generate millions of dollars in tourism and recreation. Biologists are working to protect the fragile ecosystem.
"So the hope is these corals are ready to fight the fight and change with change," said Serafin.