Posts Tagged 'coral reef ecosystems'

Federal Government Donates Confiscated Coral to the National Aquarium

A shipment of illegally imported corals intercepted by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been donated to the National Aquarium.

The corals are being used as educational tools in our newest exhibit, Blacktip Reef, as well as for the Aquarium’s conservation outreach efforts, school science programs and fabrication templates.

blacktip reef education cart
The shipment, containing 20 pieces of Seriatopora hystrix (commonly known as birdsnest coral) and 22 pieces of Pocillopora damicornis (sometimes referred to as cauliflower coral), was intercepted by CBP at the port of Tampa, Florida. The corals were cut from the reefs off the coast of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific.

Coral reefs are being threatened by human and environmental factors. Most species of coral are protected under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) and require foreign permits. This international agreement between governments ensures that international trade of wild animals does not threaten their survival. CITES consists of 178 country signatories that protect species like coral worldwide.

As the nation’s border agency, CBP works closely with the Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that laws protecting endangered species are enforced at every US port of entry.

Corals play a critical role in the ecosystem as they provide spawning, nursery, breeding and feeding  habitats for marine species, protect against shoreline erosion and provide local benefits for fishing and tourism industries.

These authentic coral pieces have become important tools for our educators, who able to bring coral reefs to life for thousands of visitors every day! We’re able to show visitors the beauty of coral and the important role that corals play in our world!

Thoughtful Thursdays: Climate Change is Killing our Coral Reefs

A Majority of Coral Reefs Will Be Damaged By 2030 Due to Rising Greenhouse Gases

The negative impacts of climate change have been widely reported. Temparatures continue to steadily rise, weather patterns are increasingly erratic and greenhouse gas emissions are causing alarming rates of CO2 to linger in our atmospheres. The ecosystem in the most immediate danger of total degradation from this changes is the ocean.

Orange mushroom and other various corals

Specifically, climate change impacts are wreaking havoc on our coral reef ecosystems. As temperatures rise, mass bleaching and infectious disease outbreaks are becoming more frequent and impossible to contain. The CO2 that lingers in the air above ground is also being absorbed into the ocean, altering the sea water chemistry in a process called ocean acidification.

“Think about putting your blue jeans in the laundry and putting in too much bleach. Well, they come out white. That’s what happens to these corals. All these beautiful colors of this coral that you’re looking at … now what you would see is a field of white,” said Brent Whitaker, National Aquarium Director of Biological Programs .

A vibrant sun polyp coral

The bleaching of coral reefs is usually brought on by unusually warm waters and stress. Shallow-water reefs, like those along our Atlantic coast and in the Caribbean, have been particularly harmed by prolonged periods of warmth – an estimated 16 percent of those reefs have been killed worldwide.

Queen Angel fish in our Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit

After closely montioring the effects these changes are having on ocean life, scientists have determined the rate at which the damage is happening. At least 70 percent of coral reefs are projected to suffer from degradation by 2030 without a dramatic change to carbon emissions, according to a Nature Climate Change study.

There is so much that we can do to protect our blue planet. To learn more about the National Aquarium’s efforts to preserve our coral reef ecosystems and how you can get involved, click here.


Sign up for AquaMail

Twitter Updates


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 239 other followers