Working for the environment

Coral restoration St-Barth

French West Indies

Logo Coral StBarth Accueil   
UNDERSTANDING
The health of coral reefs is declining fast globally. Hurricane, pollution, overfishing, sedimentation and the impact of human activities are part of the long-term threats. But the biggest of all is global warming.  The rising of sea’s temperature has provoked serious coral bleach epidemics, which resulted in massive corals mortality.

WHAT IS A CORAL ?
The coral is an animal, who builds a mineral skeleton and lives in symbiosis with a microscopic vegetal alga called Zooxanthellae. This alga is located in the cells of the coral. They are photosynthetic and use the solar energy to produce their own energy for their metabolism. During the photosynthesis process, this alga produces useful nutrients for the corals. This source of energy is fundamental for corals. They need each other to survive: this is called the symbiosis.
 
These algae contain a pigment (which can vary according to the specie) that gives a very nice color to the corals. Without these algae the animal cannot survive. We talk about coral bleaching when they are sick or die. Without the algae, there is no pigment and the skeleton reveals its white color, whatever the species might be.
  Polype

Cornes Elan Cerf
 
THE MAIN TYPES OF CORALS
Acroporas Palmata (elkhorn coral) and Cervicornis (staghorn coral) have been the first corals to be listed on the UICN Red List: they are facing the threat of extinction. These were the most common corals in the Caribbean but for the past 30 years their number has decreased. 
 
Among all the species that contribute to the formation of reefs, The Acroporas have a strong growth and naturally reproduce themselves in a gendered way and in an asexual way by fragmentation. They have been adapted themselves to the impact of waves and storms: broken fragments can create new colonies if they are stabilized.  Because of their ability to adapt and their quick growth, they can produce up to 300% of their initial mass.

THE IMPORTANCE OF CORAL REEFS
 
Coastal protection
Given their massive scale between the sea surface and the first ten meters of sea depth, coral reefs form an absorbing and very efficient barrier from seaward.
They absorb wave energy and contribute to reducing erosion of coastal edges. They reduce the damage in case of storms and cyclones.
 
Wealth of the ecosystem
In these mazes of living limestone, scientists believe that over a million animals and plant species live and that they host more than 25% of all marine life species.
They are also the bases for other ecosystems. Reefs often host juvenile fishes who live further offshore.
Mangroves are also one of the most sought after ecosystems by certain species of fish to come and lay eggs and for breeding their juveniles.
 
Tourism impact
The reefs are often the essential attraction for Tropical destinations. They attract divers, snorkelers, recreational fishermen and lovers of white sand beaches. For example, more than 100 countries benefit from reefs related tourism and contributes more than 30% of export earnings in 20 countries. The reef tourism, if it is managed in a sustainable way (ie limiting the destruction and the pollution caused by that tourism) can provide alternative or additional income resources.
 
Faune Photos
 
 
The ocean's high temperatures threaten the Caribbean corals
 
The NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrationd) declares third ever-global coral bleaching event.
 
Whereas high ocean’s temperatures are often a cause of coral bleaching in Hawaii, scientists from NOAA confirm that the same stressing conditions are expanding throughout the Caribbean. This situation will continue in the coming years and resulted in declaring the third global bleaching event ever recorded.

Water temperature is increasing in the Caribbean, thus threatening corals in Porto Rico and in the British Virgin Islands. The bleaching phenomenon has already begun in the American Samoa islands, in the Florida Keys and in the south of Florida in August.
 
The coral bleaching and the diseases caused by climate change, such as events like El Niño, are the most important and the most widespread threats that coral reefs have to face globally, said Mark Eakin, Coordinator of NOAA's Coral Reef Watch program. As a consequence, we are loosing large coral areas in the United States and worldwide. This phenomenon has lasted for over a year and our models ‘preliminary projections let us think that it will also last in 2016.
 
Blanchiment Photos
 
Even though corals can resist a light bleaching, a long-term bleaching is often mortal. Corals die, reefs rapidly degrade and the corals ‘structures erode. The seaboard is weakened by storms and fish or other marine animals’ habitat is reduced.
 
This bleaching phenomenon begun in the North of the Pacific in summer 2014 and has spread to the Indian and the South of Pacific oceans in 2015. The coral reefs of the United States have then been touched. According to NOAA's estimations, by the end of 2015, almost 95% of the coral reefs of the United States would have been exposed to the ocean conditions that may cause the corals bleaching.
 
The next worrying topic is the additional impact of El Niño. The climate models reveal that it will provoke a bleaching in the Indian Ocean and in the south of the Pacific Ocean after New Year’s Eve. It could be extending worldwide in 2016. 

CORAL BLEACHING
Have you ever wondered how a coral could turn white?
Healthy coral
1- Corals and algae depend on each other to survive.
 
Stressed coral
2- If the coral is stressed, algae will leave it.
 
Bleaching coral
3- Once the coral is left alone, it bleaches and becomes vulnerable.
Blanchiment 001   Blanchiment 002   Blanchiment 003
 
The coral has a symbiotic relationship with microscopic algae called zooxanthellae. These algae are the primary alimentation source of corals and give them this particular color. (already mentioned above)
 
When the symbiotic relationship is disturbed because of the ocean’s temperature increases or the pollution, algae leave the coral’s tissues.
 
 
Without the algae, the coral looses its main food source. It turns white or very pale and is very vulnerable to diseases.
 
 
 
The coral bleaching happens when corals are exposed to stressing environmental conditions such as high temperatures. Corals expulse algae living in symbiosis in their tissues and then they turn white or pale. Without the algae, the coral looses his main food source and is very vulnerable to diseases.
 
The first global bleaching event was in 1998, when a very strong La Niña followed a strong El Niño flow. A second one took place in 2010.
 
 
 
DONATION
  • Your donation will contribute to the preservation of corals culture intended to be transplanted to restore a reef.
  • Your donation will help us raise awareness among the local community and general public concerning the restoration of coral ecosystems.
  • Your donation will support the development of scientific research programs to enhance the preservation of coral reefs, understand their ecosystems and find better solutions to the threats corals are facing.
 
Social Facebook       Social Google       Social Youtube       Social Contact