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The Horniman Museum and Gardens

Cutting-edge Research

In 2013, the Horniman Aquarium became the first institution globally to purposefully reproduce broadcast coral in captivity.

This significant achievement led to Project Coral, an innovative coral sexual reproductive research project, run by the Horniman Aquarium with international partners.

Our Aspiration

Our aspiration is to develop this world leading scientific research so that our findings can provide real world ecological benefit. Through our work, we will: 

  •  Save endangered corals
  •  Secure the world’s coral reefs
  •  Further sustainability of the trade
  •  Train conservationists

Our Approach

In the purpose built aquarium laboratories at the Horniman, Project Coral uses microprocessor technologies to investigate the influences of the lunar cycle, diurnal changes, seasonal temperature changes, solar irradiation patterns and nutritional input on gamete (egg and sperm) production and release.

Small Organisation, Big Aims

We have made huge progress, especially in light of our small size and limited resources. Project Coral employs a small team and works in collaboration with international partners including the SECORE Foundation (Germany) and S.E.A. Aquarium at Resorts World Sentosa (Singapore). Our work will enable us:

  • To assess the impact that climate change is having on the resilience of broadcast corals and their ability to reproduce.
  • To use sexual reproduction to develop viable techniques for the sustainable aquaculture of coral.
  • To develop protocols to reliably spawn broadcast coral in captivity.

Why Study Coral?

  • Coral reefs are one the most biological diverse habitats on earth, taking up less than 0.1% of the oceans floor they are home to 25% of all marine life.
  • An estimated 800 million people globally have some level of dependency on these valuable ecosystems.
  • Coral reefs however are under increased pressure as a result of man’s activities. Overfishing, pollution, climate change with its ensuing ocean acidification, have pushed reefs to the brink of collapse.
  • Consequently over 30% of the world’s reefs are considered seriously damaged and 60% may die within the next 20 years. The need for research into coral reproduction is therefore of paramount importance.

We Need Your Support

Project Coral depends on the support of our partners and dedicated individuals to carry out this vital work. With your help, we can expand our studies to develop a Northern latitude reef and Southern Latitudinal reef, allowing the study of a broader spectrum of environmental conditions that play a role in inducing coral reproduction.

We would be delighted to discuss Project Coral or how you can support this unique project.

For further information, please contact:

Jamie Craggs,
Aquarium Curator
+44 (0)20 8291 8715.