Our Reefs at Risk Activity and Coloring Book teaches children about the wonders of coral reefs through fun and educational activities. The book takes students on a learning adventure through interactive activities, thought-provoking questions, and captivating coloring pages. It raises …
Coral reef ecosystems are rapidly declining due to numerous local and global pressures such as climate change and pollution. In response to the coral reef crisis, the Khaled bin Sultan Living Ocean Foundation (KSLOF) conducted the Global Reef Expedition (GRE) to assess the state of coral reefs in 16 countries around the world. The expedition helped generate extensive data collection including coral reef maps and benthic surveys and 2,500 sediment samples from the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. After traveling more than 50,000 km conducting research, the GRE’s valuable data opens the curiosity to explore unconventional approaches to globally evaluate coral reef health.
Now, the Khaled Sultan Living Oceans Foundation and the University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (UM-RSMAS) are working together on a new project called Protist Prophets. Run by Dr. Sam Purkis’s lab at RSMAS and funded by the National Science Foundation, this exciting project uses the sediment samples KSLOF collected on the GRE to evaluate global reef health using benthic foraminifers (forams) as markers of environmental changes and stressors. Our innovative scientific efforts will inform reef conservation strategies and develop non-traditional reef management techniques. Plus, we will assemble the Little Creature with a Big Message educational curriculum using the foram data to complement the foundation’s existing Coral Reef Ecology Curriculum available in the KSLOF Educational Portal.
Forams as bioindicators of coral reef health The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation (KSLOF) is working with our partners at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science on a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded project called “Protist Prophets …
This guest blog comes from a former KSLOF fellow, Dr. Anderson Mayfield, who joined the foundation on many of our Global Reef Expedition research missions in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. A former student of the renowned coral biologist Dr. Ruth Gates, Dr. Mayfield studies coral health and physiology at NOAA’s AOML Coral Program and at the University of Miami’s Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies. He continues to publish scientific papers based on data collected on the Global Reef Expedition, including his latest paper, recently published in the journal Oceans.
As a naïve post-doctoral researcher back in 2012, I had an idea that was surely far from novel at the time: corals of far-flung, uninhabited atolls are in better shape than those closer to major human population centers. The logic was that these corals would be under global-scale stressors only (namely those associated with climate change), and not the threats that instead plague reefs close to cities (such as pollution and overfishing).
As a fellow with the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation during their Global Reef Expedition (GRE), I tested this hypothesis by sampling corals from among the most seemingly pristine islands and atolls in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Although we certainly observed beautiful reefs with high coral cover (see image above) and diversity as well as a plethora of fish —all the visible hallmarks marine biologists look for in ‘healthy’ reefs—the corals themselves told a different story (Mayfield et al., 2017); high cellular stress levels were documented in the vast majority of the many hundreds of corals sampled across the GRE.
Despite looking healthy, the corals were struggling to survive.
These high stress levels do not, in and of themselves, imply that all such sampled corals are not long for this Earth. They do signify, however, that we likely never visited ‘pristine’ reefs during the GRE, despite studying some of the most remote coral reefs on the planet. This is a testament to the wide reach of climate change. This statement may come as a surprise to some, who, like me, assumed that somewhere out there, one might find corals entirely untouched by humankind, but this unfortunately does not appear to be the case.
Coral reefs are in crisis. Corals are an ancient life form and, because of the reefs that they build, the survival of countless other organisms is predicated on healthy coral ecosystems. But coral reefs are dying at an alarming rate. …
The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation is proud to release our findings on the state of coral reefs in Palau. Our research, based on extensive underwater surveys, found Palau’s reefs had the highest live coral cover of all the reefs studied on the Global Reef Expedition, a scientific research mission to assess the health and resiliency of coral reefs around the world.
Published today, the Global Reef Expedition: The Republic of Palau Final Report summarizes the Foundation’s research on the status of coral reefs and reef fish in Palau and provides conservation recommendations that can help preserve these outstanding coral reefs for generations to come.
The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation recently published our findings on the health and resilience of the coral reefs in the Kingdom of Tonga. The report includes a unique grading scale we developed to indicate the relative health and resilience of the reef. For each survey site we visited in Tonga, we assessed the benthic community and classified the reef as being in “good,” moderate,” or “poor” condition.
This assessment was based on the overall live coral cover, algae, and invertebrate composition of the reef.
Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Earth program is harnessing the power of the Global Reef Expedition dataset to build a predictive model of global coral reef health and resilience. Anna Bakker, a Ph.D. student working with KSLOF’s Chief Scientist Dr. Sam Purkis on remote sensing of coral reefs, was awarded the Microsoft AI for Earth Grant for the duration of her Ph.D. This program will grant us access to use the immense power of AI, machine learning, and cloud computing to analyze the data collected during the Global Reef Expedition.
In 2011, scientists from the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation set out on a mission to explore the remote coral reefs of the world. An international team of scientists, photographers, videographers and conservationists, as well as local leaders, were assembled to map, characterize, and evaluate coral reefs throughout the western Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. They wanted to take a snapshot of the reefs in time, to survey and map the reefs and assess their health before it was too late.
As the crew and science team watched from the M/Y Golden Shadow, a bigger, brighter moon filled the night sky rising above the island of Vanuabalavu on June 23, 2013. When the moon is closest to Earth, called perigee, it …