Inside the murky world of the aquarium trade

An eight-year undercover investigation has taken down poachers and smugglers raiding Florida’s coastal waters for corals and fish.

This vivid soft coral called Ricordia florida, which grows on "live rock" in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico and fluoresces under black light, is highly sought after for the aquarium trade. Rampant poaching of the coral sparked a long-term undercover investigation to catch people illegally collecting aquarium life from the Florida Keys.
Photograph by Zoonar GmbH/Alamy

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