Some Like It Cold?

August 5, 2012

The recently discovered northernmost reef in the world!

Despite the tropical paradise most people imagine when they picture coral reefs, a recent discovery proves that not all reefs exist in extremely warm temperatures. Considering that approximately 90% of the world’s reefs are in the tropics it is a rare occurrence to find a reef that can survive in temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Researchers have found what is now the most northernmost coral reef in the world off the coast of Japan’s Tsushima Islands.

Scientists are not exactly sure as to what caused this 4,300 year old reef to start growing in such an non-hospitable location, however they attribute most growth to the warm current off the northwestern coast of Japan that could carry the coral larvae from the warmer waters to this area.

This chilly reef consists mostly of the Favia coral genre. This large ground-covering coral can withstand more harsh environments than the branchy and colorful Acropora coral of the tropics. This coral discovery will allow scientists to compare coral species and locations to help understand how reefs can adapt to the ever-changing climate as well as measure the changes to the ecosystems in warmer water zones.

*Source Article

 

On March 5th something very strange occurred along the coastline in Rio De Janerio. A heavy current caused nearly 30 dolphins to wash up on shore and become stranded in the shallow sandy waters. As a practically instant reaction, local beach goers decided to take action. They dragged the dolphins one by one back into the deeper water so they could return to the ocean. This is a great example of how we can take a hands on approach in helping our environment. This touching video has become quite the internet sensation and the sunbathing beachcombers definitely go in my book as environmental heroes!

 

Watch the touching video here 

 

 

Biorock Technology Metallic Structure

A recent project off the coast of Bali is sending shock waves through the world of coral reef conservation…literally! Biorock Technology, which consist of metal cages with a minimal amount of electric current running through them, is proving helpful in assisting the rebuilding of reefs. The technology’s electric currents actually help initiate the formation of limestone which in turn attracts coral growth. This technology is derived from Wolf Hibertz’s study in the 1970’s that determined electrified metal can cause dissolved minerals in water to crystalize. Using these methods scientists can get coral to grow up to six times faster! As of now Biorock technology is the only proven successful way to protect reefs from the effects of global warming and coral bleaching. The question left remaining is if this solution can become cost effective enough to help larger endangered reef habitats. In the meantime, any progress is good progress in the fight to preserve the world’s reefs!

Seaweed and other algae suffocate and kill corals by preventing them from engaging in photosynthesis.

After researching coral reefs near the Fiji Islands, scientists can be sure that seaweed and algae are doing more than just benefiting from the dwindling state of coral bleaching. In fact some seaweeds are using their very own chemicals to severely harm and prevent the recovery of corals. Of course the overfishing of certain algae-eating fish species doesn’t help matters but instead allows the seaweeds to overgrow and conquer the desperate corals. Scientists hope that bans on harvesting seaweed-eating fish will help defeat the chemically murderous seaweed.

Check out NatGeo for more information!

Malaysia is known as a paradise reminiscent place that crawls with environmental diversity. Among this diversity lies many coral reef locations. Last weekend over 80 divers showed support for their oceanic habitat by performing a coral reef cleaning dive off of the coast of a national park called Talang Satang Island. The event was organized by Sarawak Forestry Corporation. They have also been managing the national park since 1999. This two day diving event really spread coral reef conservation awareness to the community. Fishing nets and other trash and debris were removed and cleaned off of the nearby reefs. The island is also known for being a research site for sea turtles and over the last 40 years over three million hatchlings have been released from this location. Careless fisherman and beachcombers are one of the largest causes of pollution and decaying coral reefs. So it’s nice to see Malaysian citizens showing support for their reefs! Read the full article at www.theborneopost.com.

 

The lowering levels of large predators effect reef conservation efforts.

Most of us think of sharks as villainous and frightening creatures but it turns out sharks and other large predators like them play a role in coral reef conservation. The decline of larger predators has disrupted the food chain. It seems the endangerment of these predators is caused mostly by human interference and illegal hunting and fishing practices. This loss creates what is ecologically established as a “trophic cascade.” This stands for a group of effects that trickles down to the lower levels of the food chain. After observing two different reef areas, one with a shark population and one without, scientists found that the reefs in the first habitat with sharks were much healthier than the reefs in the area with no sharks. The second area’s reefs were covered and being suffocated by algae. The absence of larger predator species is not just in ocean habitats either. It is shaking the entire ecosystem. The scale of the top-down issue is proving to be devastating towards conservation efforts as a whole.

Adopt a Reef

June 26, 2011

The Nature Conservancy’s Adopt a Reef program is a great opportunity for people to give back to reefs worldwide even if they don’t live near them. You can donate any amount you desire and they even make it an interactive process where you can choose which location you would like your donation to go towards. The selection options are the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Palau, and Papua New Guinea. Since I have actually been snorkeling in the Dominican Republic, I decided to donate to that area. During my visit, it wasn’t hard to notice all of the dying and struggling coral. This was very sad to see because the Dominican is gorgeous and the environment surrounding the borders of the country are one of the top grounds for The North Atlantic Humpback Whale breeding. The Dominican houses over 8,000 square miles of coral reefs and over 80% of them are in extreme danger and are depleting at a steadfast rate. The main causes are from overfishing, overdeveloping and careless tourism.

Adopt a reef in the Dominican Republic

The Nature Conservancy is doing the following in the Dominican to help conserve and protect the coral reefs:
-Conducting scientific field research to identify and protect key fish breeding sites
-Helping to enforce environmental regulations and combat illegal fishing activities
-Working with communities to promote alternative and sustainable livelihoods and income sources

So I definitely encourage you all to reach out and help an organization thats working hard to preserve our oceans!

An organization that I follow on Twitter really stood out to me today while I was surfing the ‘twittersphere.’  A few weeks ago I wrote about the dangers of damaging coral for the price of fashion. ‘Too Precious To Wear” was started by designers who pledge to never destroy coral to create a piece of jewelry and they encourage other companies to follow suite and take the pledge. They have ideas to create your companies own line of faux-coral products to honor the conservation of real coral reefs and emphasize the need for advocacy towards this issue. Some of the designers created fake coral candle holders, bowls, necklaces, lockets, earrings, lamps, and even napkin holders. These coral alternatives can bring the sea life vibe to your house or jewelry collection without damaging the environment!

There is even a link to take the pledge against using real coral in the line of jewelry making! To join the mission and to research the organization visit the links.

Take the Pledge on their website

Facebook Event

The Breeze Calendar

Flier for Event

@SaveReef's Twitter was used to publicize the event

Flyer to pass out at event that includes tips for what we can do to help coral reef conservation efforts.

This card was given to customers to turn in with their purchase to make sure 10% would be donated to The Nature Conservancy.

All of the print promotional material together!

Pictures from the Event!

Wraps For Reefs

Wraps for Reefs!

Wraps for Reefs!

Wraps for Reefs at Great Wraps in Harrisonburg, VA.

Blogging about coral reef conservation over the past 16 weeks has taught me so much about advocacy and how what one person can do can make a statement. With the advances in technology, it is now possible to reach out into the public sphere and let your ideas spread. Advocating for this important issue has made me feel a sense of empowerment. I have educated many people about this issue and plan to continue doing so even if I don’t blog as often (considering the project is over). Overall, this has been a great experience for me to embark upon.  Now, there are many things that I talked about this semester and if Oprah can do a favorites themed episode, so can I! In a blog format of course.

I honestly have to agree with the readers and say that my favorite blog posts had to do with the fusing together of art and science. I’m referring to the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef Project and the Ceramic Reef Installation. I also had a very enjoyable moment when I created a twitter for SaveReef. My goal was to get twenty followers and as of a few weeks ago, that goal has been met! Also more people than were expected showed up to my Wraps for Reefs event (considering it was Easter weekend) so that was exciting and proves that every little bit of fundraising or chance to spread awareness counts!

But with all of the research I did about the new initiatives and news in the realm of coral reef conservation,  I feel like the semester can be summed up pretty nicely with a photo collage to represent all of the blog posts I have written over the past several weeks. So enjoy the blog and remember to never forget about the reefs!

Blog Collage