Stone Middle School; Melbourne, Fla.
Team Members: Marilyn Costa, Marissa Jordon, Kylie Lindenmoyer, Brianna Youhana and Rich Regan (Team Advisor)
Team “Iris” conducted a study to help solve the problem of coral bleaching, a condition in which corals lose their endosymbiotic zooxanthellae, which makes the coral become white. This condition is caused by several factors, including UV radiation. Following its study, the team found that the data supported its hypothesis. Bleached anemones that were injected with harvested zooxanthellae recovered more quickly than bleached anemones that were not injected, as indicated by a higher mean number of zooxanthellae in the test group. The students’ community would benefit from a method of helping coral reefs recover from bleaching events. Coral reefs are an important part of the ocean ecosystem in Florida and form the basis of a major tourism industry. The team believes that if this technique of reintroducing zooxanthellae could be refined, coral would recover more quickly resulting in healthier reefs.