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So you live near a coral reef: Why experts say that’s not good news for reef conservation

Co-authored by Erica Cirino My favorite beach on Long Island’s North Shore, where I live, is more than 700 miles away from the nearest coral reef (in Bermuda). This distance may be a good thing: Recent research suggests the further a coral reef is from human civilization, the better. (To get close from far away,…

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.

You Can Help End the Illegal Pet Trade

March 3 is World Wildlife Day and the theme this year is: “The future of wildlife is in our hands.” One often-overlooked aspect of this is the current crisis of the global illegal trade in wildlife for use as pets. From Peruvian titi monkeys to Central Africa’s African grey parrots to Madagascar’s plowshare tortoises, the illegal global pet trade threatens countless species, sending many hurtling toward extinction.

What Are We Actually Protecting In The Ocean?

One of the great recent success stories in conservation is the rapid increase in the establishment of marine protected areas (MPAs). Since 2006, there has been a staggering growth of 10 million km2 of new MPAs globally, a nearly four-fold increase over the past decade. Yet there has been no baseline for measuring how well our marine species are represented in protected areas. Until now.

A new paper we have published in Nature’s Scientific Reports assesses the overlap of global MPAs with the ranges of 17,348 marine species (fishes, mammals, invertebrates). We have discovered some sobering results: most marine species are not well represented within MPAs and several hundred species are not covered at all.

As Paris Delegates Debate Emissions, Climate Adaptation Is Finding Solutions

While world leaders at the Conference of Parties (COP) meetings in Paris negotiate reductions of global carbon emissions, a number of organizations are already working to implement solutions to the problems those emissions create. Many conservation and development institutions are focused on applied solutions to both the current and future impacts of climate change. Such efforts are helping wildlife and ecosystems adapt to changing climatic conditions.

Coral Bleaching and the Paris Summit

Coral bleaching is happening now and globally! Bleaching, Acidification, Sea Level Rise, loss of sea ice…Climate is an ocean issue, which is why the Paris Climate Summit beginning Monday has to succeed. With the return of a strong El Niño in the Pacific Ocean and ever warmer seas, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has…

Our Heart Is on Banaba: Stories From “The Forgotten People of the Pacific”

“Our heart is in Banaba, not in Fiji,” Burentau Tabunawati explained, sitting cross-legged in his home in the Fiji capital, Suva City. “I am 76 years old, but still, in my mind and in my heart, I am on Ocean Island.” Tabunawati was born on Banaba, also known as Ocean Island, a coral island once…

Mesoamerican Race to Protect Parrotfish and the Reef

In a dramatic twist to the typical fishing tournament, this friendly competition among the four countries sharing the Mesoamerican reef (Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico) rewards international players who catch less fish and protect more coral reefs.

Fishy Parents Rejoice: Grades Rise, Few Fails on Caribbean’s Original Coral Reef Report Card

A report card from iLCP Partner Healthy Reefs for Healthy People, for the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere – the Mesoamerican reef flanking the coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras – gives hope that it may earn this year’s award for “most improved,” or perhaps “happiest fish.”

If you can’t beat ’em, eat ’em

There’s a growing trend among scuba divers in the Caribbean: they’re on the hunt for something tasty… Last month, the Glass Goby (Coryphopterus hyalinus) suffered a change in status on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Previously considered of Least Concern to conservationists, this reef-dwelling fish is now listed as Vulnerable. And it isn’t alone.…

Threatened Corals Swap “Algae” Partners to Survive Warming Oceans

A new research study showed why threatened Caribbean star corals sometimes swap partners to help them recover from bleaching events. The findings are important to understand the fate of coral reefs as ocean waters warm due to climate change. The University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science research team placed colonies…

Shedd Aquarium Participates in Pioneering Research on Caribbean Coral

Thanks to the pioneering research of Shedd Aquarium’s Dr. Tse-Lynn Loh, we now know that Caribbean coral reefs need an angel(fish). While the dangers to Caribbean reefs are widely known, Dr. Loh’s research, led by Dr. Joseph Pawlik of UNC Wilmington, focused on a largely ignored threat to coral populations: sponges. By studying heavily fished…

Palau’s Reefs: Journey from Destruction to Recovery

Written by Alison Barrat and Andy Bruckner On a scientific expedition to Palau this January we saw thriving coral reefs that contained many species of large, healthy corals, and only a few miles away we found desolate looking reefs that had virtually no coral at all. Our science team recorded conditions that were optimal for…