Probably the most significant thing I learned on this trip is that it is possible for coral to be resilient to environmental stresses … that reef revival is possible. It was exciting to see the reaction of researchers who studied the coral reefs in the lagoon of Rangiroa over ten years ago. They said that in 1998 the reefs were devastated, but now life has returned to the reefs.
We visited coral reefs of the coast of Moorea, which were devoid of life to a greater degree than Rangiroa. Although the reefs still appear somewhat lifeless, the researchers commented on how coral recruits are present, which is the first step in reef revival. And the main lesson I have learned here that I will bring back to my students is that there is still hope.
However, if we continue to treat our planet the way we do, that hope can dwindle. If we continue to let environmental stresses such as climate change affect our coral reefs, they may in time lose that resilience and we may lose them forever.
(Photos by 1-3 Brian Beck)
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