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Tag archives for Coral reef

Coral Reefs in Northern Lau Show Amazing Recovery Potential from Disturbance

The islands that make up the Lau Group have largely been unexplored. Local Fijian scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Vatuvara Foundation surveyed 35 sites on outer fringing reefs, reef flats, and lagoonal systems in the course of an 8-day expedition looking at five islands in the Northern Lau Group. While last year’s Category 5 Cyclone Winston left behind damaged areas with large boulders and upturned corals, we documented extensive areas of reef that had very little to no damage, where there was a lot of intact structural complexity to reef systems surrounding the islands.

Vatuvara Island: A Haven for Threatened Species

Vatuvara supports healthy populations of several globally threatened species, including the humphead, or Maori, wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus); giant clams (Tridacna species); and a large, prehistoric-looking land crab that rules this island. Coconut, or “robber,” crabs (Birgus latro) can be found roaming the forest floor searching for dropped coconuts, which they crack open with their powerful pincers to feed upon.

Why Weedy Species Matter on Coral Reefs

Periodic disturbances to coral reefs increase coral diversity by creating new space for new species to colonize. Shortly after a disturbance it is usually the “weedy” species like branching Pocillopora and Acropora species that come back first. Weedy species on reefs simply refers to fast growing corals that are quick to colonize a reef after a disturbance.

Impressive Lagoonal Coral Formations in a Community ‘Tabu’ Area

Lagoons have always fascinated me. The size, shape, and length of a lagoon – and the number of channels that connect inner lagoonal waters with the open ocean – influence the types of coral communities that form within. Because of the amount of sand in the lagoon that sits between the two islands of Kaibu and Yacata in northern Lau Group, I had fairly minimal expectations about what I might see. But nature has a way of surprising us, even the more seasoned coral ecologists!

Exploring Coral Reefs in the Northern Lau Group

On 8 May, 2017, a team of made up of fish and coral experts set off to the untouched waters and lush limestone islands of the Northern Lau Group. Vatuvara Private Islands, along with Vatuvara Foundation have partnered with WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) to conduct marine baseline surveys to assess the health of diverse coral reefs, 12 months after Category 5 Cyclone Winston passed through Fiji caused widescale damage.

Dodging Disney: Bahamians Seek Science to Save the Egg Island Hope Spot

By: Shilpi Chhotray, Mission Blue Communications Strategist “Tourists from around the world come to see an untouched Bahamas. Meanwhile, the government says that cultivating high-volume, high-impact deals with cruise lines will bring local jobs. In reality few locals are hired to staff the cruise lines’ “private islands” and these fantasy terraforming projects naturally conflict with…

Smart Business Solutions: St. Vincent and the Grenadines Hope Spot

St. Vincent and the Grenadines was designated a Mission Blue Hope Spot at the IUCN Congress in Hawaii by Dr. Sylvia A. Earle on September 9, 2016.  By: Shilpi Chhotray, Mission Blue Communications Strategist When someone says they are going to St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) you probably think of islands. But the marine environment —…

More ocean acidification, less coral?

Co-authored by Erica Cirino Scientists have known for about 15 years that ocean acidification has made it more difficult for hard corals and shelled marine organisms to survive. To grow, hard corals as well as clams, oysters, and others pull calcium and carbonate molecules out of the water and join them together to create calcium…

After El Niño, a Global Strategy to Save Corals

The future of coral reefs depends on the response and adaptation of corals to rising ocean temperatures. Finding reefs that serve as climate refuges and managing them globally is one of the highest priorities for action. To achieve that goal will require funding reef science beyond the borders of wealthy countries and prioritizing the monitoring and reporting of coral reefs around the world.

Coral Bleaching Linked to Climate Change, Other Factors

The Great Barrier Reef, which last year narrowly avoided being put on the World Heritage endangered list, is experiencing its worst bleaching in recorded history. According to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, overall mortality of the reef is 22 percent, but along Lizard Island, off far north Queensland, it’s 93 percent. Coral bleaching is also occurring along…

Assessing the Namena Marine Reserve Off Fiji’s Vanua Levu

It has been almost impossible to predict which reefs would survive Cyclone Winston and which ones would sustain serious damage. There is no clear pattern so far. We would dive on one reef to find it broken apart by waves, then turn a corner and find a reef intact and flourishing. The fish and shark life seemed at this stage to be largely unaffected. We were lucky to swim with white tip and grey reef sharks, large manta rays, and big schools of big-eyed trevally, surgeonfish, and fusiliers.

Diving Nigali Passage in Gau

It is Day 3 in our investigation of Cyclone Winston’s impact on the corals of Fiji’s Vatu-i-Ra Seascape. On this day, we woke up to the tall green mountains on the island of Gau in the southern Lomaiviti group and anchored ourselves in the calm sandy lagoon. In addition to being home to the Gau petrel, the area is famous for Nigali Passage. Diving Nigali requires precision – you need to time the tide correctly otherwise you can easily be swept out to sea.

A First Post-Cyclone Look at Coral Reefs in the Vatu-I-Ra Seascape

We knew the eye of Cyclone Winston passed over Ra, destroying up to 90 percent of people’s homes throughout the province while churning up the sea in its path. So we were expecting some damage to the reefs. Heading out to our first dive site, we saw in the distance Vatu-i-Ra – an island of cultural and historical importance to the village of Nasau and home to nine species of breeding seabirds. With more than 20,000 pairs of breeding Black Noddies (Anous tenuirostris), the island is recognized as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area.

Coral Restoration Research Findings Bring Positive News for the Future of Coral Reefs

Guest post by Mark Schick, collections manager, Shedd Aquarium There was grim news for the world’s coral reefs this October, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) declared the third global coral bleaching in history. This event signifies major changes in oceanic living conditions and temperatures, some of which are brought upon by our…

Fighting Dynamite With Marine Protection in Borneo

This is the devastation left by blast fishing also called fish bombing, an illegal but rampant form of fishing here in the Coral Triangle. In the practice, a fisherman tosses dynamite, or homemade bombs made from a bottle filled with fertilizer and kerosene lit by a short fuse into the water. The blast kills or stuns all fish within the vicinity, which are easily collected for market. Dangerous to the reef, this method also maims and kills fishermen, and it is not uncommon to see men with fingers or hands missing. What is left behind is a wasteland of flattened coral rubble that can take decades or even centuries to recover.