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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.

New York Marine Life Revealed at Brooklyn Photo Exhibition

“Underwater Wildlife New York,” an outdoor exhibit at Brooklyn Bridge Park by acclaimed underwater photographer Keith Ellenbogen, showcases the region’s most fascinating marine species and highlights efforts by scientists at the WCS’s New York Aquarium to study and raise awareness of the conservation needs of local marine wildlife and their habitats.

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!

Signs of Adaptation to Climate Change

Colourful corals cover steep and gentle sloping reefs. Vibrant giant clams sit embedded along the reef flats. Curious reef sharks cruise along the edge of the reef while juvenile parrotfish weave through branching coral colonies. Turtles make swift escapes and a school of barracuda hover over the deep. All with a visibility of 40+ metres. This is only a hint of what the science team has experienced in three days of surveying the coral reefs around the two islands of Kaibu and Yacata.

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.

3 Million Tons of Cosmetics in the Ocean? The Mayan Riviera Hope Spot Dives into Action

By: Shilpi Chhotray, Mission Blue Communications Strategist What used to be small fishing villages and an undeveloped coastline, the Mayan Riviera boasts stunning beaches, a diverse portfolio of dive sites for scuba divers, and high-end luxury resorts. The Mayan Riviera is part of the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR), which contains the largest barrier reef in the…

Colorful Close-Ups From a Remote Coral Reef

Kike Ballesteros reveals some of his most colorful and finely detailed images yet of the strange and beautiful creatures that call the bottom of the ocean home.

Glimpse of Arctic seafloor reveals trawler’s damage

I’m in the Arctic in the waters of Svalbard, north of Norway, at 78º North Latitude during the time of year when the sun never sets. For a few days I’m a guest aboard Greenpeace’s ship Arctic Sunrise. We’re concerned about damage to the seafloor by a recent influx of fishing trawlers into the high…

Coral Reef Bleaching Event Forecast to Worsen; NASA Studies Cause in Pacific

Coral in every major reef region across the world has already experienced bleaching, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts that temperatures in much of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans could reach a point at which significant bleaching of corals is present this summer. NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch suggests that the greatest…

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.

From Miami to Australia—Dredging and industrial activities killing coral reefs

Co-authored by Erica Cirino In the Port of Miami, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ recent dredging project has buried as much as 81 percent of the area’s reef in silty sediment with up to 95 percent of the reef area surveyed no longer suitable habitat for corals, leaving its corals vulnerable to death, according…

World Oceans Day Celebrated in Compelling Photos

From the vastness of the world’s oceans, the mystery of underwater ecosystems to humankind’s reliance on marine processes, the ocean is a wonderfully strange, altogether necessary part of our world. It is on World Oceans Day that we reflect on all of the benefits, mysteries, and wonders of the ocean.

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,…