protect coral reefs

Oceans cover over 70 percent of our planet’s surface and contain 99 percent of the living space on earth, making them hotspots of biodiversity. The National Park of American Samoa – a remote park located on four volcanic islands in the South Pacific Ocean – protects coral reefs, rainforest and a strong Samoan cultural component. Coral reef studies at the park are helping scientists understand how warming waters are affecting these and other reef systems. Photo by National Park Service.

Pokémon in our Biomes pt. 9: Coral Reefs

“I’ve recently decided to make a series of posts with hypothetical thinking and analyzing of what Pokémon species could potentially be found in the world’s biomes. Not at all relative to the games, I will be focusing primarily of the elements, design, and relativity to real life flora and fauna of Pokémon to depict where different species would roam on our big blue marble.”

This Pokémon in our Biomes post will feature coral reefs.  There are four main types of coral reefs: fringing, barrier, atolls and patch reefs. Fringing reefs grow around coastlines of islands and continents, and are separated from the shore by narrow lagoons, and are considered the most common type of reef. Barrier reefs are like fringing reefs but are separated by wider, deeper lagoons, and at their shallowest point can even reach out of the water forming a barrier to naval navigation. Atolls form protected lagoons from the uprising of undersea volcanoes, and patch reefs are small isolated reefs that grow from the open bottom of an island platform or continental shelf. 

The map above is a satellite mapping of coral reefs done by NASA.

Coral reefs are an amazingly diverse environment, teeming with thousands of different species. Usually found in warmer tropical waters (though recently a coral reef was discovered on the Atlantic coast of Norway,) to allow for higher algae growth, coral is actually made up of tons of small animals from the phylum Cnideria, which also contain jellyfish and anemones. 

I am really interested in this post. Water Pokémon are one of the most common types of Pokémon, and there certainly isn’t a lack of species found in the reefs to relate the Pokémon to. There are many examples of symbiosis, evolution, defense mechanisms, and tons of biological features all around in the reefs. I may in fact have to make this post in two parts like the rainforest posts! It may be difficult however, to mention all the Pokémon that come to mind, as I will be doing a beach and kelp forest biome separately. 

Let’s get started!

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Dr. Nyawira Muthiga is a marine conservation scientist who has spent the past twenty years dedicated to the management and conservation of East African marine ecosystems. She has dedicated her career to protecting coral reefs and advocating for sustainable fisheries management in Kenya and throughout the western Indian Ocean.She is currently the Coordinator of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Marine Programs in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO). Prior to this, she was the head of the coastal and wetland program at the Kenya Wildlife Service.

In her work for the WCS Muthiga has improved the management of marine protected areas. She oversees marine and coastal research and biodiversity conservation. Her projects include research on coral reefs and mangrove and coastal forests, and studies on marine species of special concern, such as dugongs and sea turtles. She has also overseen a plan to reduce the effects of climate change on coral reefs in the region. She even uses her expertise to protect sea turtles by working with several local organizations in Kenya. She has recently been appointed the director of the Kenya Maritime Authority. The Authority regulates maritime affairs in and oversees the enforcement of maritime and shipping laws.

Limiting catch of one type of fish could help save coral reefs

Limiting the take of just one type of fish could protect coral reefs around the world from the most serious immediate impacts of climate change, researchers have found.

Studying Caribbean coral reefs, Peter Mumby and colleagues from the University of Queensland found that enforcing a rule limiting the fishing of a single type of herbivorous fish – parrotfish – would allow coral reefs there to continue to grow, despite bleaching and other impacts associated with climate change.

Coral reefs damaged by bleaching or storms can recover when new baby corals settle and grow on the dead old corals. But the new recruits must compete with seaweed. If the seaweed outcompetes the coral, the reef can be lost forever, transforming into a seaweed-dominated ecosystem, where most of the biodiversity is lost.

But herbivorous fish can eat the seaweed, giving the baby corals a fighting chance.

SeaWorld to End Captive Breeding of Killer Whales, Orca Shows

The surprise move means the company’s 28 orcas will be the last it holds in captivity.

In a stunning move, SeaWorld has agreed to stop breeding captive killer whales, meaning its 28 orcas will be the last generation owned by the company. SeaWorld also said it would end orca shows at all its entertainment parks by 2019.

SeaWorld made the announcement Thursday morning in a joint statement with the Humane Society of the United States, which negotiated with the company over the past few months to craft the new policy.

The company will phase out its iconic “Shamu” show at all three of its U.S. parks and replace them with presentations focused on the animals’ natural environment, and it will neither receive killer whales from foreign parks nor send whales to them, including parks it hopes to open in Asia and the Middle East.

Instead of breeding orcas, SeaWorld will now invest $50 million over five years to increase its focus on rescue and rehabilitation of marine animals in distress and bringing attention to rescued animals that cannot be released to raise awareness of their plight and educate the public about the growing threats to marine life.

Some of that money will also be dedicated to advocacy campaigns to end commercial whaling and seal hunting and to fighting against shark finning, working to protect coral reefs, and reducing the commercial collection of ornamental tropical fish from the wild.

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Located in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument protects astounding biodiversity. 

The coral reefs within the monument are home to over 7,000 species, one quarter of which are found only in the Hawaiian Archipelago! Here, pyramid butterflyfish swim on a deep reef at French Frigate Shoals.

 (Greg McFall/NOAA)