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World Oceans Day - Sink or Swim?

World Oceans Day - Sink or Swim?

By Henry Tazewell | USAID Southern Africa | June 8, 2013

“Healthy oceans are imperative for the well-being of humankind,” explains Doreen Robinson, USAID’s Environment Team Leader for the Southern Africa. “While nearly one billion people rely on fish as their only source of protein, oceans regulate the global climate (including the rise and fall in both sea levels and temperature) and provide an economic backbone for millions of people.”

In honor of the upcoming World Oceans Day (June 8, 2013), the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) highlights the effective biodiversity conversation and livelihoods support occurring in the Indian Ocean surrounding the Seychelles Islands.

Coral reefs are among the ocean’s most biologically diverse habitats. While they are vital to survival of many marine species, they are threatened by pollution, global climate change, overfishing, and natural disasters. In October 2010, Nature Seychelles—a Seychelles based non-governmental organization (NGO)—began a project to improve the health of coral reefs in the region using a $560,000 grant from USAID. The four-year coral restoration project enables a team of marine scientists to establish more than ten nurseries where ecologically important species of coral are nurtured prior to being planted in selected areas surrounding Seychelles. With a stock of healthy coral growing in these underwater nurseries, Nature Seychelles has begun the process of replanting coral colonies into their natural habitat. In the first quarter of 2013, roughly 11,000 colonies were transplanted onto the floor of the Indian Ocean, covering more than 4,800 square meters with healthy, habitable coral. Maintaining healthy coral nurseries and colonies is an ongoing process. Nature Seychelles has overcome several challenges along the way, the most severe of which was cyclone Dumile that damaged two of the nurseries.

In the final year of USAID’s support, Nature Seychelles plans to continue restoring and maintaining coral colonies as a business, funded by local resorts and dive centers that rely on healthy coral reefs to attract tourists for snorkeling, scuba diving, and fishing. The island of Seychelles, off of Africa’s eastern seaboard, awaits your adventurous spirit.

 

NOTES: Contributing to the Conservation and Rejuvenation of Coral Reefs:

A) www.scientificamerican.com: Corals are animals that host tiny plants, or algae, that feed them using photosynthesis. The reefs corals build and provide important habitats…

B) Source—Global Coral Reef Convservation Project
 (http://www.mitsubishi.com’jp/en/csr/library/coral/pdf/pr2012-03-all.pdf):

  • Eight days into observation coral bacteria in water temperatures, between… 90% of coral found in the Seychelles had perished due to rising ocean temperatures…
  • Coral reefs provide a home for living creatures, thereby playing an important role in preserving the marine environment. But reefs also have a deep connection with the day-to-day lives with human beings. According to estimates by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the annual economic value provided by coral reefs is equivalent to US $100,000 to $600,000 per square meter (January 2006).
  • Biodiversity: the number and variety of organisms found in a specified geographic region, and the interrelationships among them.
  • Coral reefs have been called “the rainforests of the sea.” An estimated one-quarter of the roughly 500,000 marine animal species live in coral reefs, making them a treasure trove of biodiversity.
  • With their abundance of living creatures, coral reefs are an ideal “laboratory” for education and research. They can be used as part of environmental education through natural observation and clean-up activities.
  • During typhoons and other storms, coral reefs serve as a break-water, protecting people and animals that live on islands by lessening the open sea’s waves’ impact. They also help limit damage caused by tsunamis.
  • Many types of fish and shell-fish live in coral reefs. For generations, local people have used the seas bounty as an important source of food.