Surveying Coral Reefs in Hawaii with ACES

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Earlier this year, the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation joined Dr. Ved Chirayath on a research mission to survey and map coral reefs in Lana’i, Hawaii. Chirayath leads the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science’s Aircraft Center for Earth Studies (ACES), and has pioneered a new approach to mapping reefs using drones equipped with fluid lensing technology.

Fluid lensing harnesses the unique power of waves to magnify and concentrate light on the seafloor, essentially allowing users to see through the water and map the seafloor in stunning detail…

Coral Reefs in the South Pacific: A Webinar with SPREP

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The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation recently hosted a webinar with our partners at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP). SPREP is an organization established by the governments of Pacific Island nations to protect and manage the environment and natural resources of the Pacific. Their 21 member states (including many we studied on the Global Reef Expedition) work together to achieve healthy and resilient ecosystems and support sustainable development for Pacific communities. Our webinar with SPREP allowed us to share our research findings from the South Pacific directly with people who are actively working to conserve coral reefs and coastal marine ecosystems in the region. This is one of the many ways we are sharing our knowledge and findings from the Global Reef Expedition with the countries and communities in which we worked.

During the webinar, we were able to share information about the work the Foundation completed on the Expedition, including our extensive outreach and education initatives, as well as our scientific findings. We highlighted the programs our education team developed over the course of the Expedition, the many outreach events we held, and provided a comprehensive discussion of the results of our research in the South Pacific as well as our work in the Indian Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

At the end of the presentation, we were able to share our ongoing partnerships and upcoming projects, including our ongoing partnership with the University of Miami to develop a reef resilience model, our partnership with NASA to map the world’s reefs, as well as our numerous education programs such as the Mangrove Education & Restoration Program, Coral Reef Ecology Curriculum, and Science Without Borders® Challenge. Lastly, we shared information about our endorsed UN Ocean Decade Project, Science Without Borders®: Conserving the Tropics, which will use science, outreach, and education to engage local communities to protect their coral reefs, mangrove forests, and seagrass meadows. This project will allow us to build off of our work on the Global Reef Expedition using a co-designed approach to further conservation of tropical coastal marine ecosystems, such as those in the South Pacific.

The webinar was attended by numerous government officials, marine managers, and stakeholders from throughout the South Pacific. Some of the attendees were people we had worked with on the Global Reef Expedition, but many were new and this webinar was a great introduction to the Foundation and our work. There was a great Q&A session at the end where we were able to discuss the findings and share more information about future partnerships.

As we take the work from the Global Reef Expedition to the next level, we are always looking to develop new partnerships to help bring the UN endorsed Science Without Borders® project to communities worldwide. Webinars like this, and partnering with SPREP, are important first steps in the implementation of the Science Without Borders® project and connect us with a network of people who are also working to protect, conserve, and restore ocean health.

Tsunamigenic Potential of an Incipient Submarine Landslide in the Tiran Straits

Published in Geophysical Research Letters Abstract The Red Sea is a maritime rift. Tsunamigenic submarine landslides are common in these deep, steep-sided, and seismically active basins. Because the rift is narrow, tsunami formed on one margin dissipate little before impacting the opposite side. Red …

Sea Secrets Lecture: Beauty and Peril in the Red Sea

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Our Chief Scientist, Dr. Sam Purkis, will be giving a virtual lecture on January 18th at 7pm ET entitled “Beauty and Peril in the Red Sea.”

Dr. Purkis has joined the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation on many research missions, including several to the Red Sea. We hope you take this opportunity to hear more about his work and learn about the remarkable diversity and resiliency of coral reefs in the Red Sea.

What We Learned: Collaboration with Local Communities has the Biggest Impact on Reef Conservation

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On the Global Reef Expedition, we prioritized using a collaborative approach to study and map coral reefs by partnering with scientific and local experts in each of the countries we visited. While the scientific team was conducting surveys underwater, we also implemented various outreach and education programs in parallel to improve ocean literacy and inspire the next generation of ocean advocates. The partnerships we formed allowed us to exchange knowledge and learn how local communities were using and managing their marine resources.

One of the biggest take-aways from the GRE was that nearly every community we worked with expressed, and continues to express, the want and need for conservation of their reef systems. Working directly with communities, sharing findings, using our education and outreach programs, and expanding on the current management efforts has proven to be the most successful in conserving the reefs visited on the GRE.

What We Learned: Marine Protected Areas Work in Conserving Coral Reefs

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Managing marine resources is a challenge for communities around the globe. On the Global Reef Expedition, we had the opportunity to visit protected and unprotected reefs in both remote locations and those regularly used by humans. The degree of protection varied, but we found that areas with the highest protection had the healthiest reefs.

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are a tool commonly used by governments and communities to manage their marine resources. An MPA can have varying degrees of regulations, including no-take and no-entry where no fishing is allowed and entrance into the park is not permitted, to varying permitted use that regulate the fishing and use practices. Some of the countries we visited, such as Australia (Northern Great Barrier Reef), Palau, and New Caledonia have large human populations utilizing the reefs and have prioritized establishing large protected and managed areas to conserve their nearshore reef systems.

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.

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 …

Last Stop on the Global Reef Expedition

Chagos News July 23, 2021 By Liz Thompson Scientists aboard the Global Reef Expedition – the largest systematic coral reef survey and mapping expedition in history – travelled to Chagos Archipelago to explore its remote coral reefs. What they found …