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Smithsonian scientists help create first frozen repository for Hawaiian coral
Date:8/23/2010

ative solutions to pressing conservation problems," said Steve Monfort, director of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. "We are confident that this effort will one day help to restore these vital marine ecosystems."

Saving reef habitat alone will not stop corals' decline because many of the most serious threats are global rather than local. Done properly over time, researchers can store samples of frozen material and place them back into ecosystems to infuse new genes and vigor into natural populations, thereby enhancing the health and viability of wild stocks.

Currently, the Hawaiian bank contains frozen sperm and embryonic cells from mushroom coral (Fungia scutaria) and rice coral (Montipora capitata), but it is only a beginning. The researchers hope to store many of the corals that are important to Hawaiian reefs.

Helping with this project are two student summer interns supported by the Smithsonian Women's Committee: Malia Paresa (a senior at the University of Southern California) and Kelly Martorana (a recent graduate of California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo). This internship was an incredible experience for both women, but especially relevant to Paresa, who grew up five minutes from Kaneohe Bay.

"Before this internship, I had no idea how dire the situation was that many coral species are facing, and now I am much more aware that all of their hardships are caused by anthropogenic activities," said Paresa. "As a native Hawaiian and Kaneohe native, I take great pride in making a difference in the future of Hawaiian coral reefs. If we act quickly enough, we can make a difference to their future."


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Contact: Lindsay Renick Mayer
RenickMayerL@si.edu
202-633-3081
Smithsonian
Source:Eurekalert

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