Israelis raise coral out of the blue

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
22 January 2007, at 12:00am

ISRAEL - While other criminal lawyers are spending their afternoons preparing court cases, Israeli attorney Ofer Almalam is taking off his tie and heading over to an unusual aquatic farm to dote on some special clients.

Feeding his coral what he jokingly terms a "body-builder's" diet, Almalam helps the coral grow twenty times faster than they would if they were growing naturally in the sea.

In a secret location not far from the city of Haifa, Almalam and his partner Alon Efergan, a former engineer, are working around the clock raising coral for their new company - Advanced Coral Propagating Technology (ACP Tech).

The coral they produce - about 8,000 pieces of 6 cm. coral a year - is living proof that coral can be cultivated in captivity and in a closed system. It is the first large-scale operation of its kind in the world where coral are reared with no connection to nutrients in the sea.

The zoological research done by the unlikely pairing of a lawyer and an engineer, they hope, may one day save the world's coral reefs from extinction - or at least make it to the pages of National Geographic.

Pet stores and reef keepers around the world are taking notice of ACP Tech, which has been having a hard time meeting the demand for their colourful sea creatures. Distributed by Israeli food and agriculture giant Agrexco, major pet store distributors in the US such as Segrest Farms in Miami and Merit Import are placing orders faster than they can be delivered. The wholesale cost - about $15 apiece.

Source: Israel 21c