New London man growing coral, aims to restore reefs

NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — In a gallery on Bank Street, there is some pretty colorful artwork but nothing compared to what is blooming in the basement.

“This is the heart of our system right here.”

That filtering system allows Justin Credabel Grabel to grow thousands of pieces of coral.

“Here we have a good four hundred individual varieties of coral,” said Grabel.

The coral fills tanks in the basement and on the main exhibit floor of the Credabel Coral Laboratory & Gallery.

“We got guys that literally will double in size every two weeks or ten days,” explained Grabel.

The New London native first became fascinated with fish when he started breeding guppies in his first fish tank as a kid. That grew into a passion for coral and now this business which supplies coral to pet stores and aquariums.

“The problem with the coral in the ocean is their skeleton is basically dissolving from underneath them,” said Grabel.

Commercial success has allowed him to try to restore reefs like one near St. Martin.

“Most places are 99 percent wiped out,” said Grabel.

He’s working to identify the genetic makeup of the Caribbean coral.

“Then we can recreate everything from scratch as long as we have the data,” said Grabel.

He also says coral can help build bones in people.

“Goniopora is just the perfect bone for human transplantation,” said Grabel.

Biotechnology once written off because the reefs were disappearing from the world’s oceans. But in the Credabel Coral Laboratory & Gallery colorful coral continues to grow better than it would in the wild.

“It’s kind of a horror show out there but our message is a message of hope,” said Grabel.

 

The gallery is open to the public.

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