Scrubbers, Sumps and Such: An Introduction to Coral Reef Systems
For a long time, the only way to be near a coral reef was by scuba diving or visits to the local public aquarium. However, over the past 20-30 years, reef-keeping has evolved and become much more accessible. Today, although many people have a piece of the ocean in their homes and businesses, there is still debate over which reef systems work best.
My guest today is Bill Hoffman, the Manager of the Smithsonian Marine Ecosystems Exhibit in Fort Pierce, Florida. Bill has spent the past 17 years managing marine aquarium exhibits for the Smithsonian Institution, and worked closely with Walter Adey, who invented Algal Turf Scrubbers. Join us, as we discuss coral reef systems with Bill.
Bill Hoffman has spent the past 17 years managing marine aquarium exhibits for the Smithsonian Institution. After finishing his Masters degree at the College of Charleston, S.C., he began his professional career in the Division of Fishes at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington DC. Bill spent four years processing loans of preserved fishes for researchers before he was loaned to Smithsonian Curator, Dr. Walter Adey, the inventor of the Algal Turf Scrubber technology. Bill was hired a year later to manage the Smithsonian Natural History Museum’s Exploring Marine Ecosystems Exhibit, where he remained until the Exhibit closed in 1999. In 2001, Bill, along with the Atlantic coral reef display, moved to Fort Pierce, Florida to establish the Smithsonian Marine Ecosystems Exhibit (SMEE). The mission of SMEE, which serves as the outreach arm of the Smithsonian Marine Station, is to maintain, complex, living models of six Florida marine ecosystems to help increase public awareness on the diversity, complexity and importance of marine ecosystems. The Caribbean Coral Reef Model Ecosystem is the focal point of SMEE and currently features 22 species of hard corals, including Staghorn and Elkhorn corals, the first corals to be listed by the U.S. as threatened. Other featured habitats include, a seagrass bed, intertidal mangrove habitat, and nearshore and estuarine hardbottom communities. Bill’s experience maintaining a variety of diverse marine ecosystem aquaria has provided him with unique insight and understanding of the complex nature of marine ecosystems and what is required to maintain them in captivity.