February 9, 2023
Inside a nondescript warehouse in Orlando, Fla., filled with 300-gallon aquariums, a sophisticated LED lighting system is set on a timer to mimic the sun and moon cycle of Key West, some 300 miles away.
This space, which has been described as a Noah’s Ark for coral, is a key part of the strategy to help the survival of the only barrier reef in the continental U.S.
The reef is one of the country’s most endangered environmental jewels. It is the third-largest barrier reef in the world and stretches more than 350 miles off the Florida coast from the city of Stuart to Dry Tortugas National Park. It’s a diverse ecosystem, a tourist attraction and it helps protect the coast from storm surges, providing billions of dollars in economic benefit.