Tag Archives: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Volunteers and Coral Bleaching

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(Photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

On the radio this morning, there was a discussion about the massive coral bleaching event currently taking place around the world. Coral bleaching is caused when environmental conditions, such as water temperature and acidity, cause coral reefs to become stressed. The stress causes the coral to release a symbiotic algae which is what gives them their color and provides nutrients, a loss which causes the coral to become weakened.  If this leads to major coral reef deaths, it can and will seriously impact the ecosystem of our oceans and the other species who live in and among the coral reefs. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration explains it here and there are news stories from the BBC and Washington Post detailing the worldwide coral crisis. How does this relate to environmental volunteers, you ask? It’s volunteers who are now working to monitor coral reefs in their area, watching carefully for bleaching among their local reefs. This story out of Hawaii discusses a volunteer event aimed at training people to monitor coral reefs and report to the Eyes of The Reef Network. Here’s another story and one more about the event, which is being called Bleachapalooza. Very similar events will likely be needed around the world as coral bleaching continues and worsens.

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Volunteers as Oyster Gardeners

ID-100154534(Image courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

by Robert Barossi

Oysters are not just for making pearls and eating at raw bars. As the National Oceanic and  Atmospheric Administration points out on their page about oyster reefs in Chesapeake Bay, “Oysters are filter feeders, consuming phytoplankton (free-swimming algae) and improving water quality while they filter their food from the water. As generations of oysters settle on top of each other and grow, they form reefs that provide structured habitat for many fish species and crabs.”

These oyster reefs are also highly susceptible to pollution, reduced water quality and increased runoff. These and other factors can lead to the decline of oyster populations and the destruction of oyster reefs. Today’s story, out of Florida, describes how volunteers are helping to bring back oyster reefs which have seriously declined over time. Volunteers in the area have been growing oysters which are part of an oyster reef pilot program. If the program works and the oysters begin to clean the water, more reefs will be created in other locations. As the article mentions, the “oyster gardening” program could have wide-ranging and long-lasting effects, thanks in large part to the dedicated volunteers.

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