Blog Archives

Climate change effects on coral reproduction

All coral reefs start off as a single polyp. A polyp is essentially a small tissue from the surface inside the body, somewhat similar to a sea anemone. Stony coral species live in colonies and discharge calcium carbonate, which acts as an external skeleton. Like jellyfish and sea anemone, which are their relatives, coral polyps have tentacles that are used to catch food. The tentacles are tucked away during the day, but reach out to catch their prey, mainly plankton, by stinging them.

On an annual basis, coral reefs release their gametes (reproductive cells) simultaneously. This phenomenon is most likely prompted by the right phase of the lunar and solar cycles as well as optimum water temperature...

Read More

12 things you can do to help save coral reefs

Coral reefs are under threat

Coral around the world has been dying at unprecedented rates, largely the result of warming ocean waters due to climate change. Now, the International Coral Reef Society’s scientists have published what they call the “Pledge for Coral Reefs,” a list of 12 actions everyone can take to help protect coral and coral reefs.

“This is an educational tool to remind people that, ‘Wow, when I purchase products with single-use plastic, that affects coral reefs. When I don’t eat sustainably, that affects coral reefs. If I don’t vote, that affects coral reefs. So many environmental and climate change related issues impact coral reefs,” said Andréa Grottoli, professor of earth sciences at The Ohio State University and president of the International Coral Reef Society.

“Each of th...

Read More

Is Australia really seeing more shark attacks?

The alert about the latest shark attack came last Friday: a surfer was missing; his board dragged from the waves bearing bite marks. Western Australian authorities have since called off the search for Andrew Sharpe, 52, confirming he was mauled by a shark.

Friends who witnessed the attack said he had been knocked off his board and pulled underwater. Police divers later found scraps of his wetsuit.

His death in Wylie Bay, a popular surf spot, marks the seventh fatal shark attack in Australian waters this year, causing alarm among beach-going communities.

Not since 1929 – when there were nine fatalities – have there been so many.

So is there something in the water, or is 2020 an anomaly? 

What do the numbers show?

Looking at the total number of shark attacks reported – fat...

Read More

Great Barrier Reef has lost half of its corals since 1995

Bleached coral on Australia's Great Barrier Reef near Port Douglas in February 2017.

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has lost more than half of its corals since 1995 due to warmer seas driven by climate change, a study has found. Scientists found all types of corals had suffered a decline across the world’s largest reef system. The steepest falls came after mass bleaching events in 2016 and 2017. More mass bleaching occurred this year. 

“There is no time to lose – we must sharply decrease greenhouse gas emissions ASAP,” the researchers said.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, was conducted by marine scientists at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Queensland.

Scientists assessed the health and size of coral colonies across the reef from 1995 to 2017.

They found populations had dropped by more than 50% in...

Read More

In high seas, scientists see a lifeline for coral reefs

The vast, underexplored seas covering much of the planet could be the key to saving what remains of a more familiar undersea feature, a new study finds. The “living rock” that thrives in tropical shallows around the world, coral supports a quarter of all marine life. Yet around 20 percent of the world’s coral is already gone, and most of the rest is severely threatened by climate breakdown, overfishing and pollution.

Now, a deep dive into history on the “high seas” — the waters that lie beyond maritime borders — is providing a ray of hope for the world’s reefs: Combing through historical data and more than half a million records on the distribution of corals worldwide, researchers identified more than 116 coral reefs flourishing throughout the high seas.

Conser...

Read More

The Kiwi simplifying climate science for the world

John Lang is a London-based New Zealander who makes climate graphics – including one for the IPCC.

It might have a smaller fan-base than a Parris Goebel dance routine or a Taika Waititi movie, but a New Zealander is taking a product to the masses that he hopes will go down just as easily.

John Lang has just finished an unenviable task: taking a jargon-packed, number-heavy report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and turning it into a graphic the average person might read.

The result is Worlds Apart, which leads people through three alternative futures, depending on how fast governments tackle emissions and how the planet responds. The visuals feature filling bathtubs, open doors, and an archer with a bow and arrow demonstrating humanity overshooting 1.5 degrees C of heating – or not.

While there is no single forecast that can say how a hotter world will l...

Read More

Credit Suisse raises $212m for ‘world’s first’ ocean health impact fund

The businesses claim that the ‘Ocean Engagement Fund’ is the first impact fund of its kind, in that it is solely dedicated to and fully aligned with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14: Life Below Water. The Goal includes targets to address issues such as overfishing, marine pollution and acidification, and to boost conservation and restoration.

Between 30 and 50 businesses will be backed by the fund. Non-profit The Ocean Foundation will advise Credit Suisse and Rockefeller Asset Management on which companies to include in the portfolio. It will also provide best-practice learnings on engaging with portfolio businesses to steer them away from practices which harm the oceans, going beyond ‘doing less bad’ and achieving a net-positive impact on marine habitats.

A list of pot...

Read More

351 sea turtles found dead on same Baja coastline as mass sea lion beaching

The loggerhead sea turtles were found in the same area as a number of dead sea lions earlier this month

351 loggerhead sea turtles have been found dead on the same stretch of coastline where 137 sea lions were found deceased earlier this month. The loggerhead sea turtles and sea lions were found on the Baja California coast, in northwestern Mexico. The Mexican Centre for Environmental Law and the Centre for Biological Diversity have both said the death of the sea turtles highlights the need for net and line fishing to be banned in this area of the Pacific coast.

Searches following reports of beached sea lions on 4 September found the animals’ carcasses scattered along an 80-mile stretch of coast in Comondu, Baja California.

Tissue samples from the animals have been collected to establish a cause of death after authorities said the sea lions showed no sign of injuries from fishing net...

Read More

A ‘prolific volunteer’ grew 900 native plants to help save coral reefs. She’s 10.

A 10-year-old from Maui converted her backyard into a native plant nursery to help save coral reefs. Abby Rogers, a volunteer with the nonprofit Coral Reef Alliance, has grown over 900 native plants in the past few months to trap sediment at Wahikuli, which runs into the ocean and smothers coral reefs.

Typically, CORAL purchases the plants and hosts volunteer planting days at restoration sites.

However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, volunteers were needed to grow the plants at home.

“I really wanted to help the environment, but all I could ever think of was using a straw or bringing my own bags to the store,” said Rogers.

“My mom read about the CORAL project in a newspaper article and suggested it to me.”

Rogers is one of 100 volunteers who signed up to grow 25,000 ...

Read More

Fish Form Social Networks—and They’re Actually Good

A school of fish swims in the Coral Sea

Among the many egregious scientific inaccuracies of  Finding Nemo – fish can talk, sharks form support groups, turtles wax their shells – perhaps none is more glaring than the conceit of fish maintaining friendships. As many a marine biologist has noted, fish aren’t in it to make friends – they’re in it to survive and reproduce.

But scientists are uncovering a fascinating exception in coral reefs, not unlike the one Nemo called home: Here fish of various species band together, developing social networks exactly to survive and reproduce...

Read More