Congratulations to Celia and Todd Hitchins the winners of the Costa Rica Stay Raffle! Thanks to the Lazy Gecko for hosting Reef Relief's Holiday Raffle and thanks to the Pilates Studio of Key West, Marlene Koening, Key West Golf Course, Mimi Stafford, Tyler Oliver, Fury Water Adventures, Island Guitar, the Studios of Key West, Sebago Watersports and Michael's Restaurant. Special thanks to Dr. James Ong & Family for donating the stay at beautiful Casa Wasabi. Thanks everyone for support our work at Reef Relief!
CORVALLIS, Ore. – One of the largest and longest experiments ever done to test the impact of nutrient loading on coral reefs today confirmed what scientists have long suspected – that this type of pollution from sewage, agricultural practices or other sources can lead to coral disease and bleaching.
A three-year, controlled exposure of corals to elevated levels of nitrogen and phosphorus at a study site in the Florida Keys, done from 2009-12, showed that the prevalence of disease doubled and the amount of coral bleaching, an early sign of stress, more than tripled.
However, the study also found that once the injection of pollutants was stopped, the corals were able to recover in a surprisingly short time.
"We were shocked to see the rapid increase in disease and bleaching from a level of pollution that's fairly common in areas affected by sewage discharge, or fertilizers from agricultural or urban use," said Rebecca Vega-Thurber, an assistant professor in the College of Science at Oregon State University.
"But what was even more surprising is that corals were able to make a strong recovery within 10 months after the nutrient enrichment was stopped," Vega-Thurber said. "The problems disappeared. This provides real evidence that not only can nutrient overload cause coral problems, but programs to reduce or eliminate this pollution should help restore coral health. This is actually very good news."
The findings were published today in Global Change Biology, and offer a glimmer of hope for addressing at least some of the problems that have crippled coral reefs around the world. In the Caribbean Sea, more than 80 percent of the corals have disappeared in recent decades. These reefs, which host thousands of species of fish and other marine life, are a major component of biodiversity in the tropics. Read more
CLEWISTON, Fla. — On wind-whipped days when rain pounds this part of South Florida, people are quickly reminded that Lake Okeechobee, with its vulnerable dike and polluted waters, has become a giant environmental problem far beyond its banks.
Beginning in May, huge downpours ushered in the most significant threat in almost a decade to the bulging lake and its 80-year-old earthen dike, a turn of events with far-reaching consequences. The summer rains set off a chain reaction that devastated three major estuaries far to the east and west, distressing residents, alarming state and federal officials and prompting calls for remedial action. Read more
There are now more ways to follow Reef Relief online.
By Ari Phillips on November 26, 2013 at 11:08 am
If James Carville was giving the Chinese government public relations advice, he might say something like, “It’s the pollution, stupid.” But this wouldn’t be anything the Chinese government doesn’t already know. When eight-year-olds start getting lung cancer that can be attributed to air pollution, you’ve got a problem. When smog forces schools, roads, and airports to shut down because visibility is less than 50 yards, you’ve got a problem. When a study finds that severe pollution is slashing an average of five-and-a-half years from the life expectancy in northern China, you’ve got a problem.
Such a visible problem, literally, can lead to myopic responses in a frantic effort to make it appear that the problem is being confronted. For instance, last month the Chinese central government announced it will start publishing a list of its 10 worst — and best — cities for air pollution each month. But underneath all the haze, the seeds of a real transition are taking root. In July, the government said it would spend $275 billion through 2018 to reduce pollution levels around Beijing. Last month Shanghai released its Clean Air Action Plan in an effort to rapidly and substantially improve the air quality in China’s most populous city of nearly 24 million residents.
The Chinese government is not stupid and neither are China’s 1.35 billion residents — they can all see that pollution is a real problem. Earlier this month, Chinese communist party leaders convened a major plenary meeting to discuss economic reform, with over 200 party members gathering at the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in Beijing, or third plenum. Plenums are significant because every member of the party must be present and this year, energy and environmental issues were on the agenda. Third plenary sessions have been met with high anticipation ever since the 11th Third Plenary Session in 1978 led to the structural reforms ushered in by Deng Xiaoping and the ensuing three decades of rapid growth that have turned China into the export-driven, world power it is today.
But that sustained economic boom also led to a bust for the environment. R. Edward Grumbine, a senior international scientist in the Key Lab of Biodiversity and Biogeography at Kunming Institute of Botany, wrote in Yale360 that as the 18th Plenum ended, China’s new President, Xi Jinping, and Prime Minister Li Keqiang find their country at a critical crossroads.
“The economy has slowed, and China is confronting the cumulative consequences of its three-decade focus on economic expansion with little attention paid to mounting ecological and social costs,” Grumbine wrote. Read more
Title: Big Pine Key Cleanup
Location: Key Deer Wildlife Rufuge Visitor center
Link out: Click here
Description: FAVOR is hosting a community cleanup of the Key Deer Wildlife Refuge. Meet at the
Refuge visitor center located on Key Deer Blvd. 1/4 mile north of the traffic light on US 1, in the Big Pine Key Plaza.
Start Time: 09:00
End Time: 12:00
Scientists are worried the Great Barrier Reef is on the verge of being hit by the most damaging crown of thorns starfish outbreak on record.
Sections of the reef between Cooktown and Cairns are already in the grip of an outbreak, the fourth recorded since the 1960s.
"At the moment the crown of thorns are still ramping up in numbers," said Col McKenzie, who heads the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators (AMPTO).
"I would expect it would be 12 months before we'll see a full-on outbreak off Cairns."
Scientists say the growing plague, which comprises at least a million starfish over hundreds of kilometres, is steadily moving south with the ocean current. Read more
Oct. 29, 2013 — Plastic litter is one of the most significant problems facing the world's marine environments. Yet in the absence of a coordinated global strategy, an estimated 20 million tons of plastic litter enter the ocean each year.
A new report by authors from UCLA School of Law's Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment and UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability explores the sources and impacts of plastic marine litter and offers domestic and international policy recommendations to tackle these growing problems — a targeted, multifaceted approach aimed at protecting ocean wildlife, coastal waters, coastal economies and human health.
"Stemming the Tide of Plastic Marine Litter: A Global Action Agenda," the Emmett Center's most recent Pritzker Environmental Law and Policy Brief, documents the devastating effects of plastic marine litter, detailing how plastic forms a large portion of our waste stream and typically does not biodegrade in marine environments. Plastic marine litter has a wide range of adverse environmental and economic impacts, from wildlife deaths and degraded coral reefs to billions of dollars in cleanup costs, damage to sea vessels, and lost tourism and fisheries revenues. The brief describes the inadequacy of existing international legal mechanisms to resolve this litter crisis, calling on the global community to develop a new international treaty while also urging immediate action to implement regional and local solutions. Read more
There's no better trip south than the one that takes you into Florida's playground. It's a place where the wake from vessels can take your mind into paradise and noone knows that better than Captain Karl Hamp. For 30 years he's had the best view from the office but has seen the worst of what is in the water.
"It got so bad I actually stopped diving in the mid 80's because our coral reefs were dying so bad, it was depressing," says Hamp.
He's back with a mission to find out what killed all the coral. He's partnered with FAU scientist Dr. Brian Lepointe.
"I don't know anywhere in the world where we have lost coral at such a rapid rate. Today we have about 6% coral on average in the Florida Keys. That is less coral than any other reef in the wider Caribbean region," says Lepointe.
The destruction here at Looe Key serves as the best example of what happens when harmful algae invades the current year after year. This site was once the crown jewel of the Keys. A closer look reveals the truth. Coral looks completely different from 25 years ago when vibrant colors dominated.
You can now learn more about the individuals that make Reef Relief's work to protect our coral reefs possible.