In 2006, NOS NCCOS initiated plans to establish a place for in-house and collaborative projects that is conducive to modern laboratory-based coral research focused on biological, physical and chemical agents impacting coral health.
The mission of this endeavor is aligned with one of the CDHC’s highest priority goals: "to establish a coral culture and experimental facility capable of providing laboratory research animals in support of coral research dealing with health and diseased states".
As a result of this long-term commitment, a 1,800 sq. ft. indoor coral culture facility was opened in 2008 at the NOS NCCOS Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research (CCEHBR) in Charleston, SC. Research at the facility is conducted in support of
NOAA's coral conservation goals and has received operational assistance from NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, initially focusing on hard corals, though other relevant coral reef organisms are being incorporated into the holdings as needed.
The experimental resources available at this facility substantially enhance research opportunities for NOAA and its partners by making available captive-reared and clonal coral specimens. The facility is equipped with four closed artificial seawater raceway systems for propagation and maintenance of corals and related organisms, a support laboratory for analyses ranging from molecular and cellular biology to physiology (e.g., biomarkers) and genetics, and separate laboratory space for conducting challenge experiments with biotic and abiotic agents of interest.
Further, with growing interest and concern for deep sea corals, the facility is also uniquely poised to develop husbandry techniques for these organisms to support research needs in that area.
We currently have over 200 individual specimens representing 11 different species of hard corals from the Caribbean and Indo-Pacific, one soft coral and four anemone species housed in our new facilities. At this time, Porites divaricata and Pocillipora damicornis fragments dominate our collection.