Education Newsletter: New Coral Reef Ecology Curriculum Units – Food Webs

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We are excited to announce that we have two new Coral Reef Ecology Curriculum units – Unit 16: Food Webs and Unit 22: Conservation. These two units can be a great resource to include in your science classes.

In the food webs unit, start off your class with an engaging short video about the coral reef food web and make sure to use the accompanying Watch It! worksheet. For students who are hearing impaired or need further assistance, you’ll notice that all our Watch It! worksheets now include video scripts.

Using the background information provided, teach your students about how matter is recycled and energy is transferred in the living parts of a coral reef ecosystem. Remember that there are images, graphics, and vocabulary in in the background information to help your students learn about these concepts.

To aid in solidifying food web concepts, conduct a hands-on activity called Lesson 1: Stringing it Together. Your students can explore the feeding relationships between organisms in a coral reef ecosystem and model how matter is cycled and energy flows through it. At the end of the lesson, students will also learn about disruptions that threaten the stability of the coral reef food web. Students will form a food web out string and determine what happens when the web is out of balance.

Incorporate English Language Arts into your science classes by using our custom Read It! worksheets that accompany our field blogs. Students will read and analyze a blog written by a scientist on one of our research expeditions. In Watch It! Sharks, Dr. Will Robbins discusses the predatory role of sharks in a coral reef food web and what recent studies have revealed in Australia. At the opposite end of the food chain, learn about producers by completing Watch It! Faces & Functions of Algae. Researcher Samantha Clements describes the role of algae or “seaweed” in the coral reef food web and how it can become detrimental to the ecosystem.

Finally, assess your students’ knowledge about food webs using our online quiz. After logging in, create a class and send the code to your students so that they can track your students’ quiz scores.

Stay tuned for more information about the Conservation unit.

Amy Heemsoth
Director of Education

Announcing the winners of the 2022 Science Without Borders® Challenge!

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The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation is thrilled to announce the winners of our annual student art competition, the Science Without Borders® Challenge. Now in its tenth year, this international contest engages students in ocean conservation through art, encouraging them to create artwork that inspires people to preserve, protect, and restore the world’s oceans. This year, students were asked to illustrate a ‘Ridge to Reef’ approach to coral reef conservation—and they delivered!

Over 500 primary and secondary school students from nearly 50 countries submitted artwork to the 2022 Science Without Borders® Challenge, sending in beautiful artwork illustrating what people can do to help coral reefs on land and at sea. Artwork in the competition was judged in two categories based on age. The winning entries in each category are beautiful pieces of artwork as well as excellent illustrations of how this ridge-to-reef approach to conservation can be used to preserve, protect, and restore coral reefs.

Finalists of the 2022 Science Without Borders Challenge (Ages 15-19)!

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Last week, we proudly announced the finalists in the ages 11-14 category of our 2022 Science Without Borders® Challenge. Today, we are excited to announce the 15-19 year-old finalists of our art contest.

Contest finalists are from China, Indonesia, Korea, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The theme, “Ridge to Reef” was portrayed in the students’ artwork through a variety of different actions such as planting corals, cleaning up pollution, preventing overfishing, and planting trees. We were amazed by these students’ creativity, execution of the theme, and artistic abilities.

Without further ado, please meet our 15-19 year old finalists:

Meet the Interns: Janelle Levine

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Have you ever dreamt of working with corals? Our interns here at the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation are making it happen. Meet Janelle, our newest communications intern. Read on to see how she made her way to us!

Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I have a very non-traditional background, and made my way to the Living Oceans Foundation in a pretty roundabout way. My undergraduate degree is actually in philosophy with a focus in philosophy of science.

After graduating into the recession of 2008, one of my first jobs was at a scuba shop. I had never been scuba diving and was hired to help with swim lessons, but quickly found myself partaking in the scuba classes, as well. I spent a number of years helping with scuba classes, as well as diving recreationally and volunteering in an aquarium. As part of my job at the dive shop, I would often play the ‘victim’ in scuba rescue classes, meaning the scuba instructor would find me a spot underwater, and I would sit still in the shallow water, waiting for the rescue students to recover me. This was where I really fell in love with the underwater world – sitting still in calm silence for up to 45 minutes, breathing steadily through my regulator, looking up at the sun shining through the kelp at the surface of the water. If you are still enough, the animals start treating you like part of their environment and will swim right up to you. I was so lucky to start my scuba career exploring the kelp forests in California, a truly remarkable habitat. Through years of diving, I really started feeling a deep desire to understand how underwater habitats are formed, and the role of ecosystem engineers within them.

I eventually changed careers and started making my way up the corporate ladder, but never stopped reading and learning about marine biology and ecology. A couple of years ago, I decided that I wanted to do something more meaningful, so I quit my job and applied for grad school. I was so lucky to be accepted into IMBRSea’s program for marine resource management, and feel so lucky to now be interning for KSLOF as a part of my education!

Shark tagging with our partners, Black Girls Dive Foundation

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“There’s a shark on the line!” The young ladies from Black Girls Dive Foundation (BGDF) squirmed with anticipation and giggled with excitement. As their chaperone, I could feel my own adrenaline surging as we watched the University of Miami (UM) team scurrying around at the back of the boat. The chaperones fitted the first four students with gloves and life vests. Then the students lined up in single file to begin their assigned individual and group tasks. It was time to get to work.

In December, I had the honor of being asked to join our partners at Black Girls Dive Foundation on a shark tagging expedition with the UM Professor Neil Hammerschlag’s Shark Research and Conservation team at Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmosphere Science. The trip is part of BGDF’s Science, Technology, Robotics, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics with SCUBA (STREAMS) program, which is designed to introduce black girls between the ages of 9 and 17 to a multitude of activities. The Shark Research and Conservation Capstone is a component of the STREAMS program that teaches about the behavioral ecology and conservation of sharks. After completing a series of lecture and lab activities, this part of the program culminates with a field-intensive research expedition: shark tagging.

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.

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 …