An International Research Expedition Assesses the Biodiversity and Health of New Caledonia Coral Reefs


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A research mission on coral reefs in New Caledonia conducted in association with the IRD has just ended. Over 30 days, New Caledonia coral reefs were assessed, confirming their exceptional status in the Pacific Ocean. This should provide additional motivation to pursue the conservation efforts of these fragile ecosystems.

The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation has completed an intensive, 30 day coral reef research expedition in New Caledonia aboard the research vessel M/Y Golden Shadow. The science team was comprised of researchers from the Living Oceans Foundation staff, Living Oceans Foundation fellows from a variety of universities, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (New Caledonia Center), Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Miami, Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center in Florida, and other volunteer scientists. This multinational science team is a testimony to the value of the Foundation’s Science Without Borders® program.

This research mission is part of a larger, six‐year program called the Global Reef Expedition that is circumnavigating the globe to map and survey the world’s reefs during a time of alarming coral reef decline, unprecedented in human history. As a public benefit organization, the Living Oceans Foundation’s scientific habitat maps, reports, and recommendations are provided freely with the hopes of facilitating efforts to sustainably manage these valuable natural resources. The
Global Reef Expedition focuses on identifying factors that promote coral health, specific threats to the reefs and how corals may adapt to changing sea temperatures and acidity.

In New Caledonia, the research team has focused their efforts on coral reefs found around Ile des Pins and Prony Bay in the South, and Cook Reef and D’Entrecasteaux atolls in the North. This geographically wide selection, despite the logistics challenges, allowed including exposed reefs around a continental island, reefs in a closed bay, a section of the
longest barrier reef in the world (1600 km), and remote atolls. Except reefs in Prony Bay, all studied reefs are listed as World Heritage Areas since 2008.

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