Saudi Red Sea Authority Partners with the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation

Written by

We are thrilled to announce a significant new partnership between the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation and the Saudi Red Sea Authority (SRSA). This collaboration marks a major milestone in our ongoing efforts to advance marine conservation and promote sustainable marine tourism in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea.

The partnership was officially established today with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The signing ceremony was attended by prominent representatives from both organizations, including Mr. Mohammed Al-Nasser, CEO of SRSA, and HRH Princess Hala bint Khaled bin Sultan Al-Saud, president of the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation.

Planning a new Marine Protected Area in the Chagos Archipelago

Written by

Mauritius, with the support of the Zoological Society of London, hosted a workshop from 27th- 29th of February intended to allow scientists and practitioners from different parts of the world to interact with Mauritian scientists and relevant stakeholders and exchange knowledge to inform the planning, implementation, management, and financing of a proposed MPA in the Chagos Archipelago. KSLOF was invited to participate in this event and gave expert advice on 1) a strategic plan and vision for the new Chagos MPA, 2) the identification of new data inputs for zoning, marine spatial planning, ecological monitoring, and identifying technologies for illegal fishing enforcement, and 3) the importance of documenting cultural heritage and traditional ecological knowledge to integrate across the planning process….

Nurturing Innovation and Community Connection at UC Berkeley’s Gump Research Station

Written by

In the heart of Moorea Island in French Polynesia, a recent workshop at UC Berkeley’s Gump Research Station set the stage for a potentially transformative endeavor. Hosted by Gump Station, this gathering was dedicated to fostering a dynamic collaboration between scientists and the local community. The goal? To inform the creation of an ‘Innovation Hub’ that bridges the gap between research and the people it ultimately serves.

The event brought together over 30 people from around the world with an interest in working with the environment and people of French Polynesia. Participants included an eclectic mix of scientists, funders, representatives from nonprofit and community outreach organizations, and prominent members of the local community. The Foundation’s Chief Communications Officer, Liz Thompson, attended and shared some ideas about what the Innovation Hub could be and how it could be structured to benefit both the people and the marine environment of Moorea. The workshop succeeded in bringing together diverse minds united by a shared passion for combining science and outreach for conservation…

Coral Bleaching

Written by

Coral reef bleaching has been in the headline news this past summer, as it was the hottest three-month period on record. As ocean temperatures soared to 32°C (90°F) around the Florida Keys and the Caribbean, coral reefs were way past their temperature threshold and started to bleach. But what happens when a coral bleaches?

Coral bleaching is a phenomenon that occurs when coral polyps expel the symbiotic (mutually beneficial) algae called zooxanthellae from their tissues, causing the corals to lose their color and turn white or pale. These algae provide the corals with essential nutrients through photosynthesis and contribute to their vibrant colors. When coral polyps expel the zooxanthellae, it not only leads to the loss of color but also affects the overall health and survival of the coral reefs…

Community Outreach in the Beqa-Yanuca Seascape

Written by

A key component of the United Nations Endorsed Project Science Without Borders®: Conserving the Tropics is outreach and community engagement. During the joint outreach and fieldwork campaign with the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation (KSLOF) and Pacific Blue Foundation (PBF), four villages were visited in the Beqa-Yanuca Seascape. Community engagement and outreach are both important cultural practices for the Chief’s blessing and permission to work on the reef surrounding the villages, but they are also important for visiting scientists to gain valuable local knowledge about the nearshore ecosystem. The final component of the outreach program was to teach several local community members the survey methods for collecting coral reef transect data.

The lagoon is surrounded by several villages, each with its own unique character and traditions. The KSLOF and PBF team worked with four of these communities: Naisomo, Raviravi, Rukua, and Yunuca. The most important first step for community engagement in the Fijian islands is meeting with the head Chief and other community elders to receive permission to work in the waters near to their village. The meeting is called a sevu sevu. The sevu sevu must be done before any work in the water or on shore is started. It is considered extremely disrespectful if this cultural practice is not followed by outside visitors.

During the meeting with the Chief and his advisors, it is customary to partake in a ceremonial drink called kava. It is traditionally prepared by pounding sun-dried kava root into a fine powder, straining it, and mixing it with cold water in a large bowl called a tanoa. Tanoas are carved out of a native hardwood and often have designs to reflect the history of the village. The kava mixture is then poured and drunk out of a bilo, which are small cups carved from coconuts. As the kava is shared amongst the villagers and visitors, the Chief asks what the purpose of the visit is and how it will benefit the community.

Community-Based Coral Reef Monitoring in Rukua Village

Written by

The reefs surrounding the Beqa Lagoon in Fiji have endured many events that threaten their ability to survive, including bleaching events, crown-of-thorns outbreaks, and cyclone damage. These reefs are incredibly important to the people of the region, and to save them, the surrounding villages and communities want to have a pulse on the health of their marine resources. To help manage these threats and monitor locally managed marine areas, or tabu,the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation is working with Mila Matairakula, a master’s student and Pacific Blue Foundation’s Environmental Officer. Her project, Small Scale Assessment of Changes in Coral Genus Using the Machine Learning Tool, CoralNet: A Case Study in Rukua Village, Beqa, will focus on streamlining in-water survey protocols to develop a more accurate and cost-effective method for coral reef monitoring.

One of the first test sites in Beqa Lagoon is Rukua Village, which has several traditional protection areas (tabu) and designated fishing grounds (qoliqoli). These areas have historically been managed locally by community members to help keep fishing pressure and coral reef damage to a minimum. However, there have not been sufficient monitoring protocols to evaluate how these managed areas are faring. If the coral reef ecosystem is stressed and overfished, it greatly affects the lives and food security of the village…

In Awe of J.A.M.I.N

Written by

Today’s guest blog comes from Sandra Turner, who works to promote the equitable advancement of climate literacy and ocean conservation. The Geography of Awe is the name of her latest National Geographic Society grant project, where she integrates her fieldwork and expertise in cartography and multimedia storytelling to share her love for the Caribbean’s rich culture and biodiversity. Here’s what she had to say about working with us on our J.A.M.I.N. program:

Every so often, we get the rare chance to experience genuine awe and inspiration. This was the case when Amy Heemsoth extended the invitation to join her this past April at William Knibb High School as she concluded her Jamaica Awareness of Mangroves in Nature (J.A.M.I.N.) program. I was in Jamaica conducting conservation research and fieldwork on another part of the island. Still, after months of phone calls, I could not resist the opportunity to meet Amy in person and learn more about the incredible work she does in the region, teaching students about marine ecosystems.

As a National Geographic Certified Educator and Explorer currently working to increase the equitable advancement of climate and ocean literacy to students in vulnerable global communities, Amy and I converged on the idea of deepening student citizen science and storytelling engagement. As I reflect on the impactful day spent with Amy, the students, and the staff, there are a few unforgettable moments worth sharing…

2022-2023 B.A.M. and J.A.M.I.N. Teacher Spotlight

Written by

Often, we share comments about our B.A.M. and J.A.M.I.N. programs from the students’ perspectives. This year I would like to highlight our remarkable teachers. Teachers are the backbone of our mangrove education and restoration programs, and their crucial role cannot be overstated. Over the years, we have come to realize that the success of these programs hinges on the teachers’ willingness to embrace and seamlessly integrate them into their classrooms. Their dedication and passion for teaching have enabled us to achieve our goals of educating students about the significance of mangroves and instilling a sense of conservation in them.

We extend our heartfelt appreciation to all the teachers who have been part of our programs, both the veterans who have been with us since the beginning and the new members who have recently joined our educational family. It is their incredible commitment that empowers us to make a lasting impact on the lives of students and cultivate a future generation that will protect and preserve our precious mangroves. It’s time to meet and celebrate our dedicated B.A.M. and J.A.M.I.N. teachers who make a significant difference every day!