A shipment of illegally imported corals intercepted by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been donated to the National Aquarium.
The corals are being used as educational tools in our newest exhibit, Blacktip Reef, as well as for the Aquarium’s conservation outreach efforts, school science programs and fabrication templates.
The shipment, containing 20 pieces of Seriatopora hystrix (commonly known as birdsnest coral) and 22 pieces of Pocillopora damicornis (sometimes referred to as cauliflower coral), was intercepted by CBP at the port of Tampa, Florida. The corals were cut from the reefs off the coast of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific.
Coral reefs are being threatened by human and environmental factors. Most species of coral are protected under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) and require foreign permits. This international agreement between governments ensures that international trade of wild animals does not threaten their survival. CITES consists of 178 country signatories that protect species like coral worldwide.
As the nation’s border agency, CBP works closely with the Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that laws protecting endangered species are enforced at every US port of entry.
Corals play a critical role in the ecosystem as they provide spawning, nursery, breeding and feeding habitats for marine species, protect against shoreline erosion and provide local benefits for fishing and tourism industries.
These authentic coral pieces have become important tools for our educators, who able to bring coral reefs to life for thousands of visitors every day! We’re able to show visitors the beauty of coral and the important role that corals play in our world!