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New Caledonia
Natural Park of the Coral Sea

The pristine areas are a haven for hump-back whales, sea birds and turtles and contain an estimated 1,700 species of fish and 473 different types of coral, according to non-profit organization Pew Charitable Trusts.

The reefs will now be harder to access for the roughly 600,000 tourists who visit New Caledonia each year, generating one of its main income streams.

Leleuvia Resort, Fiji

The ban was a good idea but the Pacific region had many other environmental problems on its plate, according to Emma Newland, a science officer with the region’s scientific agency, the Pacific Community (SPC). “I guess for us the tourists numbers aren’t so big but we have more pressing issues, I think, more around agricultural runoff, deforestation and human and animal waste streams that are ultimately affecting our coral reefs.”


In half the sites surveyed, live corals populated less than one percent of a given reef. At 80 percent of the Samoan sites, live corals were below 10 percent. The scientists estimate that these reefs may have previously had live coverage between 60 and 80 percent, and graveyards of recently deceased coral suggest that much of the die-off happened in the recent past.

Additionally, fish from two species found in the reefs were 10 percent smaller than individuals of the same species around nearby islands, and they were found in schools of smaller numbers.!

Disease likelihood increased 20-fold once a coral was draped in plastic. Plastic debris stresses coral through light deprivation, toxin release, and anoxia, giving pathogens a foothold for invasion.

We found that only a limited set of species (51 out of approx. 400, approx. 13%), belonging to various functional groups and evolutionary lineages, are strongly and positively associated with fish biomass and live coral cover. Many of these species have not previously been identified as functionally important, and thus may be involved in unknown, yet important, biological mechanisms that help sustain healthy and productive coral reefs. CWS has the potential to reveal species that are key to ecosystem functioning and services and to guide management strategies as well as new experiments to decipher underlying causal ecological processes.

Week Two:

Professor Graham said: “The results of this study are clear. Rat eradication should be a high conservation priority on oceanic islands. Getting rid of the rats would be likely to benefit terrestrial ecosystems and enhance coral reef productivity and functioning by restoring seabird derived nutrient subsidies from large areas of ocean. It could tip the balance for the future survival of these reefs and their ecosystems.”

Read more at: Eradicate rats to bolster coral reefs


“We’re now adding the dimension of depth into the problem where before we were only skimming the surface of what temperature stress meant for corals,” said Scripps Ph.D. candidate Travis Schramek, lead author of the study. “We see that the heat-induced stress penetrates all the way into the mesophotic zone during larger bleaching events.”

Read more at: Scientists find corals in deeper waters under stress too
Scientists find corals in deeper waters under stress too


Expanding shoreline infrastructure has increased global sources of plastic materials available for biotic colonization and also interacts with climate change–induced storms of increasing severity to eject debris into the oceans. In turn, increased ocean rafting may intensify species invasions.

“There’s no getting around that a paper straw will cost about a penny more than a plastic straw,” he says. For large corporations, that equals hundreds of millions of dollars, but the cost to the marine environment, you can’t put a price on that.”

Week Three

Even more bad news about climate change. We could be speeding up the ocean circulation by warming waters, releasing one of the largest carbon sinks on Earth.

If carbon from the deep sea were to enter the atmosphere, it could tip the scale, counteracting any gains made through smart policy or technology.

One study has mapped out the history of marine fishing.

We’re beginning to see how everything is connected. It’s not just about looking at where catch comes from, but the bigger picture of fishing and our dependency on it.

Interesting read on ‘beautifying’ beaches to sterility. Something to consider when one visits a groomed beach front.

Cook Islands

2013 surveys by the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation. In the South Pacific, coral reefs have declined by about 25 percent in the past two decades.

Our results show that unregulated nitrogen inputs to tropical islands eventually leads to the discharge of this nitrogen to surrounding reefs, Dirk Erler said. The important point is that the discharge can occur over many years after the cessation of the pollution.

Read more at: Polluted groundwater likely contaminated South Pacific Ocean coral reefs for decades

Week Five

Two years since this study was done, but still relevant. Suggested harvest minimum is 30cm for parrotfish to keep seaweed at bay.

“The likelihood of disease increases from 4 percent to 89 percent when corals are in contact with plastic,” researchers report in the journal Science.

Week Seven

The photo visual from Marshall Islands about the impact of climate change hits hard the reality that most people are not attuned to because due to incremental change.

Coral reefs may be affected by heavy downpour of rain, causing a shift in the ocean’s salinity concentrations.