United Nation’s Ocean Conference June 5-9

The UN is holding its first Ocean Conference from June 5 – 9, 2017 in New York. Coinciding with World Oceans Day, the governments of Sweden and Fiji are co-hosting the conference. Sustainability and working to conserve our oceans will be primary issues at the conference.

On the opening of the conference , United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned that the special relationship between people and the ocean that brings untold benefits for life is under threat as never before. The problems of the ocean—all created by human activity – can all be reversed and prevented with decisive, coordinated action.

“Conserving our oceans and using them sustainably is preserving life itself,” he said.

Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, and the incoming president of the next Climate Conference, said: “Climate change poses the biggest threat the world has ever known. And the quality of our oceans and seas is also deteriorating at an alarming rate. They are interlinked, because rising sea levels, as well as ocean acidity and warmer waters have a direct effect on our reefs and fish stocks and the prosperity of our coastal communities.”.

Click the link below to visit the Ocean Conference website >>

The Ocean Conference | 5-9 June 2017


Professors Bridgeman and Turner Teach Coral Reef Ecology at University of Toledo

Butterprint barain coral 20 ft (GP)
Butterprint barain coral 20 ft (GP)

Professors Thomas Bridgeman and John Turner have been teaching the online course “Marine Biology: Coral Reef Ecology” this Spring at the University of Toledo, as well as a field course on coral reef ecology, involving a trip to Great Abaco island in the Bahamas.

As part of the UT coral reef ecology field course, nine students will accompany Professors Turner and Bridgeman, along with a photographer, to the island of Great Abaco in the Bahamas this May, to snorkel and experience firsthand the wonders of the Caribbean coral reefs. Students will be collecting data regarding fish populations and other coral reef species, recording aspects of coral reef conditions, and will undertake several  short experiments.

Students will also visit grass beds and mangroves, take a boat trip to a  Bahamian marine preserve, and visit Friends of the Environment, an Abaco organization doing  environmental education.

““Our field course in Coral Reef Ecology is an important means for immersing students into the real-life world of coral reefs,” says Professor Turner, “and to participate in experimental approaches to better understanding coral reefs and their functions. The learning experience this way is unique and very different from reading about reefs or watching  orchestrated reef videos.   The students also get  to explore  a different country and culture as part of the daily activity.  Overall, it justifies use of the often-clichéd word ‘awesome’.”

The University of Toledo’s online course “Marine Biology: Coral Reef Lab” is a 1 credit lab.  This is the third  year UT has offered this online lab course, which had 45 students this year. Marine Biology: Coral Reef Lab includes:  A virtual laboratory-based exploration of the coral reef environment and the dynamics of the coral reef ecosystem. The web of life on reefs will be examined at multiple levels, including living and non-living components and specialized roles among species, with emphasis on the delicate balance of natural processes and impacts of various stressors. Online data labs will be enhanced with at-home activities including creating and manipulating a physical model of a reef ecosystem.

The Marine Biology: Coral Reef Lab fulfills the university requirement for a natural science laboratory.

According to Prof. Bridgeman, the traveling coral reef ecology field course will not be offered next year, but may be offered again in 2019.  However, the online lab course will be taught again Spring 2018.

Global Coral Restoration Project starts in the Caribbean

SECORE International, the California Academy of Sciences and The Nature Conservancy have formed the Global Coral Restoration Project with the goal of rehabilitating existing coral reefs by adding living coral reef species. This project aims to study and apply coral restoration techniques and practices on a larger scale, by seeding coral, while integrating coordinated conservation, education and outreach efforts. The group will hold a workshop this May entitled: “New techniques for coral restoration in the Caribbean” on Curaçao. Read the article >>

Is this year’s El Nino Causing Coral Reef Bleaching?

El Nino Southern Oscillation

The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a periodic shift of the ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific that spreads warm water from one part of the ocean to another and impacts weather around the world. It happens every 3-7 years (5 years on average) and typically lasts nine months to two years.  El Ninos have been implicated in causing coral die-offs since the 1980s.

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Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, UNESCO World Heritage Site

There has been much news about the stress and difficulties experienced by Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the largest of our planet’s coral reefs.   The Government of Australia produced in September of 2016 its Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan.  “The plan responds to the challenges facing the Reef and presents actions to protect its values, health and resilience while allowing ecologically sustainable use,” the government’s website states.

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites.  UNESCO seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.

UNESCO has been monitoring the environmental situation with regard to the Great Barrier Reef, and has posted reports on the coral reef.  The last UNESCO monitoring mission was in 2012.