I missed a lot of what I would imagine were really great talks while I was a student at the University of New Mexico. I had this wealth of knowledge available but I always had a lot of studying to do that often interfered. In one of the talks I was fortunate not to miss, the speaker made a statement that still haunts me today. She said that we have explored outer space more than we have explored our oceans. In fact, we haven’t studied 95% of our oceans. Yet we know that our oceans are heating up and that this change is affecting coral reefs.
Everywhere I turn lately, there seems be some discussion on coral reefs and our impact as humans on them. Conversely, we know that coral reefs have an impact not only directly on humans but also on plants and other animals. Global climate change is real, and likely this year’s hurricane season is just the beginning. The hurricanes have devastated many humans, animals, and coral reefs. Those seemingly minute changes to our planet’s temperature have large impacts on our oceans. This rise in temperature causes what is known as bleaching events which can kill coral reefs. Recently, Netflix released a documentary called Chasing Coral that takes an in-depth look at what is happening with bleaching events worldwide. And is an eyeopening look at how a rise in temperature is impacting their survival.
Can we have an impact one person at a time? The problem seems enormous and overwhelming as complicated as rocket science. Yet I think we can make positive changes for the survival of our reefs. And I was curious, what did the average educated person know about coral reefs coming from their own knowledge base? You know, not someone like me who seeks out information on reef restoration even more now that I have my opportunity. I decided to send out an informal poll to my family and a few friends in different walks of life. I received some interesting responses and everyone had some insights or opinions on coral reefs. My brother stated, “I care but I feel powerless to change it like most people I suppose.”
But let’s take a step back and ask the question: why should we even care about coral reefs? Why do they matter?
They are the “rain forest of the sea”. They provide habitats for many different species living in our oceans. Coral reefs are important to humans. We benefit globally from the fish we eat to the economic growth reefs provide in areas of recreation and tourism. Coral reefs are worth a staggering $3.4 billion annually to people living in communities near the coast. And they provide coastal communities protection from storms.
My sister-in-law said she’s “seen headlines that say coral reefs are dying” and I’ve seen them, too. I think we are at a critical point in the survival of coral reefs. When we first started talking about doing ecotourism in the Dominican Republic, coral reef restoration projects struck a chord with me. Coral reefs are biologically diverse ecosystems filled with many working parts without just one solution. But that’s a good thing, because that means we can all do something to help if we choose.
What can we do for coral reefs?
So what can someone like me and you do to help protect something that seems impossible? We start by get better educated, together. Later this month, we have an opportunity to meet with a Peace Corps Volunteer who is working on coral reef restoration projects. She works with four different organizations on protecting the only barrier reef located near Punta Rucia in the Dominican Republic. After our visit, I will update our blog with what we learn and see during this unusual educational opportunity.
There is still time to sign up and attend our October Eco Adventure and experience this information first hand rather than reading about my account on this blog (of course, I hope you’ll read my blog, too). And there will be other opportunities for experiencing our eco adventures as well. Our next eco adventure is in July 2018. Here’s to increasing our knowledge of our coral reefs in our oceans one eco adventure at a time.
Stay tuned for more information after our first eco adventure with Abundance Retreats.