Wraps for Reefs!

April 29, 2011

Entrance Sign at Wraps for Reefs

For my Argumentation and Advocacy Communications Course, I had to plan and execute an advocacy event during the month of April. For this event, I decided that I would raise money to donate to The Nature Conservancy’s Adopt a Reef Program. To do this, I had a proceeds day on last Saturday, April 23rd at Great Wraps Restaurant in Harrisonburg, Virginia. To prep for this day, I created flyers and a Facebook event, as well as recruiting anyone I met or talked to that month to come help save coral reefs! The event brought in approximately 70 people during the day! I handed out a fact sheet letting people know about the current situation regarding the reefs and what they can do to help out. The flyer stated the following tips for simple things that anyone can do no matter if they live near the ocean or the mountains!

  1. Conserve Water : the less water you use, the less runoff will pollute the oceans.
  2. Help Reduce Pollution : car and industry emissions lead to ocean warming which causes coral bleaching.
  3. Use organic fertilizers : no matter how far you live away from oceans, products can make their way into the water system
  4. Dispose of your trash properly : any kind of litter can pollute the water and harm the reefs
  5. Support Reef-Friendly Businesses and Organizations : Research companies and organizations to find out which ones give back to the oceans and reefs.

    The flyer and proceeds card!

  6. Plant a tree : What happens on land effects the health of our oceans. Trees reduce runoff and planting them also helps reverse global warming and the rising temperatures of our oceans that create coral bleaching.
  7. Practice responsible diving and snorkeling : When near reefs it is important to not touch the coral or drop boat anchors.
  8. Volunteer for a coral reef cleanup : Even if you don’t live near a coral reef when vacationing make an impact during your visit by picking up trash along the shore.
  9. Contact your government representatives : write a letter to take action to protect coral reefs, stop sewage pollution, expand marine protected areas and prevent further offshore drilling sites
  10.  Spread the Word: the more people who learn about the situation, the more there are to help. Spreading awareness is one of the easiest and most effective ways to help protect coral reefs!

    chowing down and saving some reefs!

Raising money for reefs..what could be better?


Similar to elephant tusks and animal fur, selling coral for fashionable and decorative purposes is not highly thought of in the eyes of an environmentalist. Since the rise in popularity of coral jewelry and the rise of coral deterioration, there is actually a law that concerns the purchase of coral jewelry. Supposedly only corals that grow slow and live a long time are selected for ornamental purposes but serious coral jewelry collectors will pay for unique and restricted types of coral. So as with any limitations, people find a way to get around it and the black market for prohibited forms of coral jewelry definitely is in existence.

The most famous market places of coral are in southern Ireland, Italy, Hawaii and Australia. The most popular coral on the market is red coral. This type has been highly revered since early civilizations for its admirable color and texture. Red coral can be found in the ocean depth at about 500 to 1000 feet below the surface. According to the law, since this coral only grows about 1/4 an inch each year it classifies as slow growing and is not restricted but instead is highly treasured as a collectors item. I have blogged previously about scientists efforts to cultivate and re-grow coral to help rebuild the destruction of reefs across the world. When it comes to coral jewelry, what I don’t understand is how the fact that the coral is a slow growing species makes it okay to waste on a frivolous reason? Slow growing corals have little to no hope of being candidates for coral cultivation so if anything they should be protected from materialistic usage.

Instead of real coral, there are many fashionable alternatives stylish people can turn to. While shopping at Target the other day I noticed this coral ring pictured above. They also had necklaces of imitation red coral that gets the sea life theme point across without harming the struggling corals! So it is important to search for eco-friendly ways to stay fashionable without harming our animals or the environment!

Coral Inspired Jewelry from Target

Another faux-coral ring available online at: tias.com

The very first Earth Day was on April 22,1970! I was shocked to find out that such an important celebration has only been 41 years in the making. Clearly the Earth should be celebrated everyday, but it is on this day that hippie, disco dancing environmentalist first joined together to show support for ecological issues. The tradition came from a lot of angst and pure activism.

Earth Day began during the Disco Era... can you say groovy?

In the 1970’s the environment was getting noticeably worse but “going green” issues were not covered by the media or considered to be of any problem to the government. Letters and calls were sent out to encourage people to rally for the deteriorating Earth. That day, 20 million people participated across the nation. By the end of that year, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency was born and eco-friendly issues became part of the political agenda.

Today, an issue that was once ignored and reserved for eccentric tree-huggers has now become mainstream. According to The World Resources Institute, 80 percent of Americans consider themselves to be environmentalists. An impressive difference since the tradition caught on four decades ago. Do something today for the Earth! Whether it is being more conscious about water and electricity usage or mobilizing people to spread awareness, any scaled effort would be appreciated!

PADI (The Professional Association of Diving Instructors) is the worlds largest diver training organization. On top of their success, the are becoming great role models for divers and other diving associations by promoting save ocean practices. This month, PADI announced their support for Dive for Earth Day organized by the The Project AWARE Foundation . This initiative creates awareness across communities to protect the oceans through underwater and shoreline clean up efforts. Inspired by Project AWARE, PADI has created the Sea the Change Conservation Contest in which people can submit a video about their efforts to make a positive impact on ocean life and preservation. The VP of Communications for PADI, Kristen Valette said,

“We hope the underwater cleanups and Sea the Change Conservation Contest will ignite a sense of responsibility and encourage people to do their part in keeping our oceans clean. The more individuals who particpate, the great impact we can make.”

Videos can be submitted online until December 15th and the contestant whose video gets the most views will win money and $5,000 dollars will be donated to the Project AWARE Foundation. It is refreshing to see a diving organization step up and take a stand. One of the biggest threat to coral reefs is human interference. Diving can be a danger to coral reefs if the diver is not professional. One touch or fin kick of the coral causes great damage. PADI’s efforts are a step in the right direction to erasing the negative image that many reckless divers have created.

The hyperbolic crochet coral reef post a while back seemed to interest many readers because of the combination of art and science to represent our endangered coral reefs. But crocheting is not the only way to creatively take a stand. Brown University student Courtney Mattison created a large scale ceramic coral reef wall installation with hopes of inspiring marine conservation.

This ceramic installation is 10 feet wide and 15 feet in height. That's a large representation to match the large problem of coral reef destruction!

In her loft Mattison created a compilation of ceramic pieces that are 10 feet wide and nearly 15 feet in height. Unlike Mattison who has snorkeled and dived in Thailand, Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, and the Great Barrier Reef, most people don’t have the opportunity to explore the reefs first hand. This leads to the reefs being out of sight, out of mind which is a reason coral reef advocacy and spreading the word about conservation is so important. Mattison’s project hopefully will bring attention to marine conservation while simultaneously allowing people to view a vivid representation of the reefs to learn about their troubles and what they can do to help. What is really amazing about this project is the artful representation of the two main threats to reefs, coral bleaching and algae overgrowth. The ceramic sculpture depicts a healthy and colorful coral system on the bottom and as the sculpture climbs the destruction to the reefs are shown through white, bleaching coral. The very top is green and the overgrown algae symbolically suffocates the coral. Mattison said she created a small healthy red branch of coral amongst the dead coral to show that there is hope for the recovery of our worlds reefs. This inspiring art installation will be displayed in the Herbert C. Hoover Building in Washington D.C. this spring until June 15th.


Tweet about the Reefs!

April 9, 2011

It is exciting to announce that SaveReef now has a Twitter! If you wanna get updates about the current news of reefs in 140 characters or less then follow @Save_Reef asap! I joined two days ago and already have 15 followers ranging from people living in Germany, Hawaii and Columbia University! Here are some other coral reef advocates that you might want to follow as well.

  • @Oceana
  • @Healthy_Ocean
  • @CERC Columbia

SaveReef on Twitter!

According to the Saudi Press Agency, The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation is expanding their Global Reef Expedition by conducting coral reef surveys in the Bahamas and other Caribbean Basin countries. Assistant Minister of Defense and Aviation for Military Affairs Prince Khaled bin Sultan is the founder of the foundation. It seems that even debatably controversial military officials have a soft side for the world’s oceans. Check out a message from the founder himself.

algae suffocating the reef

The foundation stresses the endangerment of coral especially the reef destruction near Jeddah due to raw sewage disposal into the Red Sea. Sewage clearly doesn’t sound like it would be beneficial to anything let alone the living coral ecosystems. The heavy nitrates within sewage fuels growths of algae which can easily become overgrown and suffocate the reefs.

One of the most beneficial aspects of the foundations expedition is they are planning by next year to conduct education programs in all of the participating regions. They are working on implementing coral conservation into the overall curriculum of schools worldwide. This is really important because unlike other conservation organizations, The Living Oceans Foundation has really planned and set up long term goals for their expedition. Also education programs are one of the only hopes for protecting coral reef habitats in the future. The disturbances caused by humans are one of the major reasons reefs are suffering. If people were more familiar with the facts their actions would reflect healthy and more sustainable practices. The Living Oceans Foundation has focused on surveying and studying reefs in other parts of the Red Sea since 2006 and has charted out impressive plans for future expeditions. The unique dynamic of this foundation makes it interesting to learn about and encouraging to participate in. For more information about The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation visit the official website.

Black Coral ( which is actually orange! )

The U.S. Geological Survey has finally been able to determine the age of black coral living in the Gulf of Mexico. Ironically, they found coral right near the area of the BP oil spill fiasco that is approximately 2,000 years old! This type of coral is very fragile and known to grow 2,000 times slower than a fingernail. This leaves scientists to wonder how the coral will be able to recover from the extreme disturbances in the Gulf. Luckily most of the damage to reefs caused from the Deepwater Horizon explosion seems to be in a southwest direction from the colony of black coral but tests are still being done to determine if there is any true damage to these ancient corals.


Today, is the last day to speak up and sign a petition on the Oceana Website to prevent new offshore drilling for the next five years. This movement is voting against new offshore drilling sites being allowed in the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2010-2017. Until we develop safer methods it might be wise to take a five year pause when it comes to establishing new offshore drilling locations.

Not many fish in sight near Haiti's Reefs

An article came out today declaring Haiti’s coral reefs to be the areas that suffer most from the threat of overfishing in the world. Surveys conducted by a non-profit organization called Reef Check found that hardly any prime reproductive aged fish were left in this area. The severely low amount of plant-eating fish near these reefs creates a build-up of algae which blocks the sun and prevents photosynthesis. This is a large threat against the reefs. Currently less than 10% of the reefs surveyed so far are composed of living healthy coral, while over 50% is being taken over by algae. The surveyors observed the reefs covered in fishing nets or traps, all which is evidence that overfishing and disruptive fishing practices are the most immediate cause of damage to Haiti’s reefs. By conserving the reefs and implementing programs and rules to keep disturbances out, the population of reef fish will hopefully increase. The MacArthur Foundation along with Reef Check are working towards implementing a plan to help these suffering reefs.

For the full article click here!