Pop on your sunhat, and get ready for some ocean farming! The world’s oceans need coral carers more than ever, and we’ll tell you why we love projects like the Moorea Coral Gardeners so much.
It’s impossible to live in today’s world without having heard of climate change. Over the past few decades, carbon dioxide (CO2) levels have reached levels astronomically higher than any other cycle on historical record. This gas creates the “Greenhouse effect”, trapping the sun’s heat in the atmosphere and increasing global temperatures.
If, in the dead heat of summer, you decided to pin someone down with a wooly blanket and not let them go, understandably they might be a little irate. Well, that’s kind of what we’re seeing with the Earth at large, except instead of heading to the nearest police station and pressing assault charges, it’s showing its irritation in big dramatic climatic events, like flooding, droughts, and ocean acidification.
The current struggle of coral reefs is a clear and very visual example that everything is not okay in the sea, and climate change is one big culprit.
Coral reefs form a relatively small sized part of the ocean compared to the huge positive impact they have, being home to more than 25% of all marine life – over 4,000 species of fish, and 700 species of coral. Meanwhile on a human scale, they provide over $375 billion each year of ecosystem services – including food, and biomedical resources.
Coral itself, forming the basis of a reef, is actually a super sensitive organism which is due to its unique composition. Instead of being an animal or a plant, it’s basically both – The tiny anemone-like coral polyp, invites in a microalgae called Symbiodinium, which lives within it, protected from the surrounding environment. In return, the algae creates food for both itself and it’s polyp host, and they stay together until death do them part. It’s like us having algae growing under our skin, constantly photosynthesising us tasty snacks. They then form huge colonies leaving limestone skeletons behind as they grow which form the “fortresses” of the reefs we know so well.
Unfortunately it’s this til “death do us part” marriage that is the problem. Most corals cannot tolerate any ongoing big changes in light, acidity, and temperature. When upset by the conditions, they expel the Symbiodinium that gives them their colour, and turn an icy white. This is when we see coral “bleaching”. The animal can then potentially regroup a new set of algae if conditions return to normal and survive, but in today’s ocean, this is becoming more unlikely.
Current ocean conditions are changing rapidly. A 2 degree Celsius ocean temperature rise is predicted to occur in the next 50 years, if we do not change the levels of CO2. It also doesn’t help that levels of methane are also rising (caused by increasing animal agriculture), with this gas having 60 times more atmosphere warming ability then CO2.
So how can we protect our fragile reefs? There are a few ideas.
As a collective, it’s a no brainer support clean energy, harnessing natural resources like solar and wind energy.
Secondly, on the ground, amazing teams like the Moorea Coral Gardeners are physically re-building the crumbling fortresses of affected reefs, with new baby corals. Scientific research continues to show this method to be one of the cheapest and most effective methods of reef restoration.
They also support reducing marine plastics, using bamboo stakes where possible instead of plastic supports. Legends! From the insights and valuable research of these passionate conservationists, new information can be found and applied to many other affected sites around the world.
Clean oceans and marine conservation is very close to our heart at CURVY. So much so that we have rallied our troops and are about to embark on an inspiring adventure in support of this vital issue.
Thanks to our friends and partners at RUSTY Womens, we will soon be announcing an exciting collaboration that we are thrilled to be working together on.
Watch this space for special announcements coming very soon.