World Oceans Day: Working with Partners for Positive Ocean Change

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Happy World Oceans Day!

This year’s theme for World Oceans Day is “Revitalization: Collective Action for the Ocean.” Here at the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, we are adopting this theme by celebrating all of the ways we are working with partners to bring about positive ocean change.

We know we can’t save the ocean alone, so we embrace our philosophy of Science Without Borders® and work with like-minded institutions on areas where we can lend our expertise. Over the past year we have made great strides in working with our partners around the world on joint efforts to preserve, protect, and restore our living oceans…

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.

Riyadh Blue Talk: Tune-in Tomorrow @ 7am ET

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The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation is delighted to be participating in the Riyadh Blue Talk tomorrow morning, May 24, 2022.

The “Riyadh Blue Talk” is organized by the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator, the Embassy of Portugal, and the Embassy of Kenya in Riyadh. The event begins at 7am ET and will be live-streamed to allow for virtual participation.

The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation has been invited to share our knowledge of marine science and conservation, and to present our work to provide science-based solutions to protect and restore ocean health.

Our Chief Scientist, Sam Purkis, will be discussing what measures can be implemented so we can have accessible, affordable, shared data to better support the decision-making process towards ocean sustainability. He will also be participating in a panel discussion on increasing scientific knowledge and developing research capacity to advance ocean conservation initiatives.

Tune in to watch his presentation LIVE @ 8:20 am ET!

Foraminifera are windows to understanding long-term coral reef stress

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This guest blog comes from Dr. Alexander Humphreys, a geology lecturer and researcher at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation is working with Dr. Humphreys and our partners at UM on a new National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded project, “Protists Prophets,” that is looking at benthic sediment samples collected on the Global Reef Expedition (GRE) to assess the state of the coral reef environment over the past 1,000 years.

I am a modern benthic foraminiferal researcher, which means that I study some of the tiniest organisms in the ocean in order to learn about past environmental conditions on coral reefs. However, before we get to this story, let me first explain a bit about these little critters and their importance to science.

Foraminifera, or forams for short, are protists, which are single-celled amoeba-like organisms that grow a protective shell, called a ‘test’. Today there are roughly 4,000 species of forams and they can be found living in all the world’s oceans, from polar environments to the deepest ocean trenches nearly 11 km down. Forams are important to science because they have short lifespans and are sensitive to environmental change. This sensitivity causes rapid shuffling of species abundances over time as the environmental conditions and climates gradually—and sometime abruptly—fluctuate. When the life of a foram comes to an end, the story does not stop there because even though the organism decays, its hard protective test preserves well and fossilizes, laying down evidence of these population changes in the geologic record—one that goes back 500 million years! I approach this deep fossil record of foraminifera like the pages in a book that tells the story of oceanic and environmental change. The trick is learning how to read the story that these little protists have to tell.

Reflections on a Big Year

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As 2021 comes to a close, the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation is taking some time to reflect on everything we have accomplished this year.

Despite the restrictions imposed by the ongoing pandemic, we have had quite a few things to celebrate. This year we entered into a partnership with NASA to map the world’s reefs, concluded our 10-year Global Reef Expedition, and published a final report of our findings. We also presented our research at two major international conferences: the IUCN World Conservation Congress and the International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS), released a report of our research in the Chagos Archipelago, and published several peer-reviewed scientific papers.

Our education and outreach departments also had a remarkable year. This year we launched a new mangrove conservation program with our partners in Jamaica and had students from over 60 countries submit artwork to our Science Without Borders Challenge. Last but certainly not least, we produced an excellent TV show on ocean health, “Our Living Oceans,” which is now playing on EarthxTV.

It’s been an incredible year, and we look forward to the work we will accomplish next year to help protect, preserve, and restore our living oceans.

Findings from the Global Reef Expedition: Swift Action is Needed to Address Climate Change

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Climate change is affecting oceans globally, but many believe coral reefs are the world’s “canary in the coal mine” when it comes to irreversible damage resulting from climate impacts.

To understand the mechanisms of climate change, it is important to look at the history of carbon emissions. In the 1880s, the industrial revolution catalyzed the use of carbon-based fuel and helped advance human civilization in ways very few could imagine. However, one downside to this advancement was the exponential release and trapping of carbon in our atmosphere, usually in the form of carbon dioxide. For the past 140 years, this accumulation has resulted in substantial changes to the Earth’s climate.

The Earth’s ocean is a net carbon sink, meaning it absorbs more carbon than it releases. Within the ocean, there are many chemical changes that can occur as the amount of carbon dioxide is dissolved into the water. One of the most common changes is a decrease in the ocean’s pH as it becomes more acidic as more CO2 is absorbed, a term commonly referred to as ocean acidification (OA). This decrease in pH has led to numerous physiological problems in marine animals, particularly calcifying organisms like those found on coral reefs.

Coral Conservation: A new episode of “Our Living Oceans” on EarthxTV

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What are marine protected areas, and how can they help protect our coral reefs? Where are they working, and what makes them effective? Find out in the latest episode of “Our Living Oceans,” Coral Conservation, now playing on EarthxTV.

We are all connected to the world’s oceans. The oceans are a critical source of food, income, and even oxygen for the entire planet. Therefore, global threats to the health of these oceans are something that affects us all.

In this episode, we talk to the world’s leading experts on marine conservation, including those who participated in our Global Reef Expedition, about the importance of marine protected areas (MPAs) and how they are used to preserve coral reefs—before it is too late.

The Global Reef Expedition at the IUCN World Conservation Congress

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The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation’s Director of Science Management, Alex Dempsey, had the prestigious opportunity to present at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, France. Her presentation, entitled “The Global Reef Expedition (GRE): Circumnavigating the Globe to Address the Coral Reef Crisis,” focused on the plight of coral reefs and how the Global Reef Expedition assessed the state of coral reefs around the world.

Held once every four years, the IUCN World Conservation Congress brings together “several thousand leaders and decision-makers from government, civil society, indigenous peoples, business, and academia, with the goal of conserving the environment and harnessing the solutions nature offers to global challenges.” As coral reefs are rapidly declining globally due to a host of different stressors such as climate change and overfishing, they are a key example of a critical habitat in need of global awareness and protection using a multifaceted approach of conservation disciplines and stakeholder involvement. The presentation highlighted how the GRE was meticulously planned under the framework of Science Without Borders©, and the foundation’s three-pronged approach of using scientific research, education, and outreach to address the coral reef crisis. In each country the GRE visited, an international team of scientists together with local leaders, conservationists, government officials, and subject matter experts worked in tandem to assess the state of the reefs.