Mon, May 14, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Museum teams up with Frozen Ark to save coral

PRESERVATION:Kenting’s corals would be the first Taiwanese addition to the UK project’s collection of tissue, viable cells and DNA from endangered species

By Tsai Tsung-hsien  /  Staff reporter

A scientist freezes coral embryos at the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium in Pingtung County on Saturday.

Photo: Tsai Tsung-hsien, Taipei Times

The National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium on Saturday announced that it would join the Frozen Ark global conservation project by freezing the DNA of coral species living off the shore of Pingtung County’s Kenting (墾丁).

The Frozen Ark, launched by British scientists Bryan Clarke and his wife, Ann, is a registered charity based at the University of Nottingham in the UK that collects and preserves tissue, viable cells and DNA samples from endangered species.

Supported by more than 22 partners worldwide, the project has collected more than 48,000 samples belonging to about 5,500 species. Kenting’s corals would be the first Taiwanese species to join the project’s collection.

Protecting coral is an urgent issue as it is threatened by global warming and human activity, museum researcher Lin Chia-hsin (林家興) said.

Prior to joining the project, the museum had over the past decade been using freezing techniques to preserve the cells of precious coral species and build a DNA database.

Asked if certain coral species would be selected for the global project, Lin said it would be great if he could save more than one species and he hopes to preserve all the animal and algal species needed to sustain a complete coral ecosystem.

However, the storage conditions for different corals vary widely, which is challenging for researchers, he said.

Ideally, different protective measures, such as setting up conservation zones, artificial coral farming and freezing coral to preserve it should be carried out simultaneously, Lin said.

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