We Need Better Coral Reef Management

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Coral reefs are subjected to natural and human-induced disturbances, both of which can have a negative impact on the health of the ecosystem. Examples of human caused disturbances include pollution, destructive fishing practices, overharvesting animals for the aquarium trade, among …

Findings from the Global Reef Expedition: Reef Fish Populations are being Overexploited Globally

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On the Global Reef Expedition, our team of scientists assessed the reef fish populations in both fished and remote locations to help identify if reef fish were being overexploited. This type of research is important for the health of the coral reef ecosystem, but also for the people who depend upon them.

An estimated six million fishers in 99 countries and territories target reef fish species for sustenance and subsistence. The world’s reefs produce 10-12% of the fish caught in tropical nations and 20-25% of the fish caught in the developing nations of the Pacific, Indian, Middle East, and the Caribbean. Across the tropical Pacific nations, it is estimated that 90% of the daily protein consumed by local communities comes directly from adjacent reefs. With so many people relying on reef fish for their daily lives, managing fish stocks is imperative.

Some studies suggest minimum reef fish biomass targets should fall between 1,195 and 1,900 kg per ha (or 11-19 kg per 100m2) to help maintain sustainable reef fish populations and help maintain critical ecosystem services, food security, and resilience of coral reefs. In most locations, we found the fish biomass fell at or below this.

Findings from the Global Reef Expedition: Swift Action is Needed to Address Climate Change

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Climate change is affecting oceans globally, but many believe coral reefs are the world’s “canary in the coal mine” when it comes to irreversible damage resulting from climate impacts.

To understand the mechanisms of climate change, it is important to look at the history of carbon emissions. In the 1880s, the industrial revolution catalyzed the use of carbon-based fuel and helped advance human civilization in ways very few could imagine. However, one downside to this advancement was the exponential release and trapping of carbon in our atmosphere, usually in the form of carbon dioxide. For the past 140 years, this accumulation has resulted in substantial changes to the Earth’s climate.

The Earth’s ocean is a net carbon sink, meaning it absorbs more carbon than it releases. Within the ocean, there are many chemical changes that can occur as the amount of carbon dioxide is dissolved into the water. One of the most common changes is a decrease in the ocean’s pH as it becomes more acidic as more CO2 is absorbed, a term commonly referred to as ocean acidification (OA). This decrease in pH has led to numerous physiological problems in marine animals, particularly calcifying organisms like those found on coral reefs.

Watch the season finale of Our Living Oceans!

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Tune into EarthxTV tonight to watch the season finale of Our Living Oceans!

Our Living Oceans is a documentary series that explores the health of our living oceans, the threats they face, and what is being done to save them through conversations with scientists, conservationists, and local leaders from around the world. The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation is proud to partner with EarthX to produce this remarkable series.

This week’s episode focuses on Ocean Optimism. In it, we share success stories of ocean conservation and the hope we have for preserving our oceans for the use and enjoyment of current and future generations. This episode features the renowned marine biologist and coral conservationist Dr. Nancy Knowlton, one of the founders of the #OceanOptimism movement. She talks about what gives her hope for our ocean’s future. This episode also features Her Deepness, Dr. Sylvia Earle, talking about how a TED prize made it possible for her to launch Mission Blue and create a global network of Hope Spots to help protect our living oceans. The season finale also includes our Education Director, Amy Heemsoth, who discusses the education and outreach work we did on the Global Reef Expedition and how the Living Oceans Foundation continues to inspire the next generation of ocean advocates.

A Coral’s Community

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Coral reefs are majestic undersea wonders that contain some of the most unique and mysterious creatures I have ever observed. Ever since my first encounter with one while snorkeling, the natural awe and intrigue I feel in the presence of these incredible ecosystems has never left me. Throughout my education I have learned about the biology, the functions, and the benefits of coral reefs, and the natural and anthropogenic activities that threaten them. But it wasn’t until I started teaching about coral reefs on the Global Reef Expedition (GRE) that I truly understood the interconnectedness between people and the reefs. It was an insight gained not through a textbook, but, rather, from listening to, speaking with, and directly engaging those whose lives—and livelihoods—are impacted by coral reefs.

During the GRE Fiji mission, we launched our first large-scale education and outreach program that coincided with the scientific research taking place. Before we could proceed, however, we first needed to meet with the chiefs of the local villages to discuss our scientific and educational objectives, as well as seek their approval to continue in our mission. With the helpful guidance of our local liaisons and education partners, Roko Josefa Cinavilakeba and Laitia Raloa, we were able to have fruitful discussions with the chiefs of each village, after which the science team was granted permission to continue in their research. The education team, after continued discussions with the chief and other community members, were able to establish a schedule for coral reef education seminars for the schools and local communities.

Coral Conservation: A new episode of “Our Living Oceans” on EarthxTV

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What are marine protected areas, and how can they help protect our coral reefs? Where are they working, and what makes them effective? Find out in the latest episode of “Our Living Oceans,” Coral Conservation, now playing on EarthxTV.

We are all connected to the world’s oceans. The oceans are a critical source of food, income, and even oxygen for the entire planet. Therefore, global threats to the health of these oceans are something that affects us all.

In this episode, we talk to the world’s leading experts on marine conservation, including those who participated in our Global Reef Expedition, about the importance of marine protected areas (MPAs) and how they are used to preserve coral reefs—before it is too late.

Our Living Oceans: Threats to Our Oceans, now playing on EarthxTV!

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Throughout the Global Reef Expedition, the Living Oceans Foundation observed signs of declining ocean health and its impact on coral reefs and coastal marine ecosystems. What are the biggest threats to our ocean, and what can be done to protect it?

Find out in the 4th episode of Our Living Oceans, now playing on EarthxTV!

Tune in to hear from experts from the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation and our fellow scientists and conservation leaders working around the world to protect and restore ocean health.

This episode features many scientists and partners who joined us on the Global Reef Expedition, as well as renowned marine scientists Dr. Daniel Pauly, Dr. Ben Halpern, and Dr. Nancy Knowlton. In this episode, you will also hear from celebrated deep-sea explorer, Her Deepness Dr. Sylvia Earle, about her hopes for the future of our ocean.

Watch Our Living Oceans online or on the EarthxTV app today, and discover the hidden life within our living oceans.

Findings from the Global Reef Expedition

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Coral reefs offer a variety of ecosystem services, including sustenance, economic opportunities, and protection from natural disturbances, as well as playing an essential cultural role for thousands of communities. However, globally, the extent of the world’s reefs is being degraded at an astounding rate. To better understand the coral reef crisis, we embarked on the Global Reef Expedition (GRE), the world’s largest coral reef survey and high-resolution habitat mapping initiative, to assess the status of Earth’s reefs at a critical point in time. The GRE brought together an international team of over 200 scientists, educators, photographers, and filmmakers who circumnavigated the globe surveying some of the most remote coral reefs in the world.

This month, we published a report summarizing all of our findings from the Global Reef Expedition.

Survey of the World’s Reefs Reveals the Extent of the Coral Reef Crisis

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Today, after spending ten years assessing the state of coral reefs around the world, the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation has released a comprehensive report of our findings from the Global Reef Expedition. The Global Reef Expedition Final Report provides valuable baseline data on the status of the world’s reefs at a critical point in time and offers key insights into how to save coral reefs in a rapidly changing world.

Both natural and man-made factors have contributed to a precipitous decline in coral reefs as coastal development, pollution, disease, severe storms, and climate change have all impacted the health of coral reefs. As oceans continue to warm, and massive coral bleaching events occur with increasing frequency and severity, coral reefs are struggling to survive. Scientists estimate that half of the world’s coral reefs have been lost in the last 40 years. Coral reefs are clearly in crisis. How do we save the reefs that remain before it is too late?

The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation embarked on the Global Reef Expedition to address this coral reef crisis. This research mission brought together hundreds of scientists from around the world to conduct tens of thousands of standardized scientific surveys at over 1,000 reefs in 16 countries. The Expedition traveled around the globe surveying and mapping coral reefs, from the Red Sea through the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. Scientists on the research mission worked closely with local experts, managers, educators, and government officials to help the Foundation collect the data needed to develop science-based solutions to conservation.

Global Reef Expedition Final Report

The Global Reef Expedition Final Report summarizes the findings from our 10-year research mission to survey and map coral reefs across the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans as well as the Red Sea. The Expedition involved hundreds of research scientists …