April 15, 2004 – Zebra fish that are black and white, the way Mother Nature planned them, are interesting, sure, but nowadays science can create them in living color — as visitors to Coral World Ocean Park can see for themselves.
On exhibit in the "night room" of the Marine Gardens at the Coki Point attraction are the small, glowing, bright red fish that were hatched from eggs implanted with a green fluorescent protein from a sea coral.
Originally from India, the DNA-enhanced zebra fish, trademark-named GloFish, were bred to help scientists detect environmental toxins. "It is fascinating that a small genetic modification has turned these tiny fish into an early warning system for water pollution," Trudie Prior, Coral World general manager, said in a release.
After reading about GloFish in The New York Times, Prior said, "although these are freshwater fish not found in the Caribbean, we thought people here, especially the children, should have an opportunity to see bio-engineering in action."
The fish absorb light and then re-emit it. The ultraviolet light in the Coral World aquarium "allows visitors to see the fish at their most beautiful," the release states.
The genetic engineering was undertaken to create "a marine creature that would glow in the presence of toxins and pollutants and not shine in pristine water," it says. "While the GloFish at Coral World shine all the time, scientists are close to defining the trigger mechanism to meet the goals of the DNA-bred zebra fish."
In the last decade, the potential of GloFish to aid research has created huge interest throughout the scientific community, "as well as a marine buzz for new hobbyists and experienced collectors," the release states.
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