Coral Reefs
Just Published: Coral Reefs in the Microbial Seas
Written by Merry Youle

It's no surprise for TRT members to hear that too much algae is bad news for corals. Likewise, you already know all too well those factors that can lead to too much algae in your tank, factors such as not enough grazers and too many nutrients. For decades coral reef scientists had known that too much algae is also not good for coral reefs. Often one finds rampant algae on dying coral reefs, but do the algae kill the corals? Or are they just taking advantage of the real estate offered when corals die from other causes? It was not until the 21st century that the research tools became available to uncover the mysterious connection linking algae to coral death. That link is the microbes. The relationship between corals and microbes during good times and bad is the subject of a newly published book by microbial ecologist Forest Rohwer: Coral Reefs in the Microbial Seas.

In this engaging book, Rohwer relates how the coral's microbial partners have made it possible for the corals to not only survive for millennia in nutrient-poor regions of the ocean but to build the epic structures we know as coral reefs. However, since the 1980s the corals have been struggling. Both coral disease and bleaching have become widespread. The reefs in trouble are typically those that have been overfished or fertilized by nutrient-laden runoff from nearby shores or stressed by warmer temperatures. Any of those circumstances can disrupt the fine-tuned balance and lead to more algae. Combine two or more and the results can be disastrous. Photosynthesizing algae release dissolved sugars into the water; more algae release more sugars; more sugars fuel too many microbes—especially too many of the disease-causing sort; more dying corals make room for yet more algae to grow. This vicious cycle leads, in Rohwer's words, to the DDAMnation of coral reefs. 

The Coral Reef Alliance
Written by Ava

Coral reefs are dying.  It's a sad, but true fact.

Fortunately, one group out there believes in the majesty and mystery of coral reefs and in their ability to teach, sustain, inspire and give life.  They've gone to great lengths to turn the dive community into one of conservation and commitment to the protection of corals. Thus, the Coral Reef Alliance has grown from a small, grassroots alliance into the only international non profit organization that works exclusively to protect our planet's coral reefs.  

"We have lost over 20% of all coral reefs in the past 40 years and, if we don’t reduce human impact on them, we may lose the our remaining reefs within our lifetime," says Executive Director Brian Huse in an interview, ""We hold the hope for reversing this crisis and believe in the power of community to make change, to find common ground, and to heal."

Protecting Our Planet's Coral Reefs
Written by Ava

An estimated two-thirds of all coral reefs in the world are at risk today. Hard to believe, until you consider that an estimated 25% of the world's reefs have already disappeared.

It gets worse.  More than 80% of the reefs in Southeast Asia are at risk and more than 90% of the reefs in the Florida Keys have lost their living coral cover since 1975.

But there's hope for coral reef conservationists everywhere and it comes in the form of Orla Doherty, Abigail Alling and the rest of the Planetary Coral Reef Foundation (PCRF) which strive to save and protect the world's coral reef ecosystem.

And while yes, unfortunately for various aquarists they do admit housing reefs in tanks is not a good idea, they also offer various other important facts and tips on what you can to help keep them among our marine life environment.

We had the chance to interview Orla Doherty & Abigail Alling and here's what both of them had to say:

NOAA's Corals and Climate
Written by Ava

Coral paleoclimatology, the study of corals and how they relate to climate and climate change, can be quite a complex concept.  Lucky for us, Bruce Bauer, the Data Manager for the World Data Center for Paleoclimatology and a member of the Paleoclimatology Branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association's (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center, makes it quite simple with these short, but concrete responses to some of our questions on a topic we'd love to learn much more about. 

What does Bruce and NOAA's general Paleoclimatology program do exactly? According to it's official site, it provides the paleoclimate data and information needed to understand and model inter-annual to centennial-scale environmental variability.   It's also operates the World Data Center for Paleoclimatology, and an Applied Research Center for Paleoclimatology.

It doesn't just look at climate relating to corals, of course.  We're happy to know they do research and collect data on lakes and oceans, too!

Bruce's answers may be short and sweet, but the NOAA's Paleoclimatology program, particularly in the Coral department, is making some big changes!

Finding Coral
Written by Ava

Don't know about the Finding Coral expedition? Well you do now! After all, it IS the first of its kind.  You'll see what I mean.

The Finding Coral expedition took off on June 8th to search for deep sea corals in Hecate Strait and the Queen Charlotte Basin. What the group calls a "blue ribbon" science team of 17 technicians, biologists, researchers and more, will head two deep worker manned submarine and travel to the depths of the sea searching for evidence of corals, associated species, and damage from human impacts.

This expedition is the first of its kind in British Columbia! It's designed to study deep water corals and threats to their well being. With the help of the Living Oceans Society, the Finding Coral expedition team members are doing just that!

World Oceans Day: And The Winner Is...
Written by Ava

Marine biologist and coral reef conservationist John Halas has won the 2009 Ocean Hero Award run by big-time marine conservation organization Oceana.  He's also the manager of the Upper Region of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

According to the Oceana blog, John has been working to protect coral reef systems in Florida since 1981.  He himself developed an environmentally sound ancho and mooring buoy system that prevents damage to coral reefs.  He has been working to implement the anchorage system in 38 countries.

My Coral Adventures: Part 6
Written by Eddie

Eddie, a high end coral exporter in Indonesia, shares his coral hunting adventures with the world on his blog, My Coral Adventures.  In this series, TRT takes a glimpse at what Eddie has to go through to get proper livestock to good customers. When we last left Eddie, he was taking and incredibly interesting aquacultured coral hunting trip in Northern Bali...

And now the conclusion of My Coral Adventures!

To finish off this topic, I would like to share a few pictures of wild corals that I have recently exported.

Beautiful trachyphyllias like this are not common!

Rivalry Among The Reefs: A Century of Conflict Over the Coral Reef Problem
Written by Eric

It took the threat of nuclear annihilation between the two greatest powers of the 20th century to solve one of the most profound scientific controversies of the 1800s.  In 1952 Dr. Harry Ladd, a researcher for the US Geological Survey, convinced the US War Department to drill holes deep into the Bikini and Eniwetok Atolls just prior to their obliteration by hydrogen bombs.  The reason for the drilling had little to do with the nuclear tests as part of Operation Crossroads, but was simply to conduct an experiment based on the hypothesis of coral reef formation first proposed by Charles Darwin in 1837.

Coral reefs are formed by the biological activity from millions of tiny cnidarian polyps, sea anemone-like creatures only a few millimeters in diameter, which secrete calcium carbonate as a protective exoskeleton.  As each generation of coral dies, a new generation builds upon the bones of their ancestors.  Since the coral feed on the energy produced by photosynthetic algae, they can only survive near the ocean surface where there is plenty of sunlight.  The abandoned tenements beneath thus serve as the ideal habitat for millions of marine species.  While occupying only 0.2 percent of the world’s oceans, coral reefs sustain 25 percent of species diversity;  an oceanographic public works project that has been in existence for 3.5 billion years

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