The Protists Prophets: An Innovative Way to Unlock the Past, Present, and Future of Coral Reefs
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.