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Emergency Response to Massive Coral Bleaching

by Corals for Conservation
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Emergency Response to Massive Coral Bleaching
Emergency Response to Massive Coral Bleaching
Emergency Response to Massive Coral Bleaching
Emergency Response to Massive Coral Bleaching
Emergency Response to Massive Coral Bleaching
Emergency Response to Massive Coral Bleaching
Emergency Response to Massive Coral Bleaching
Emergency Response to Massive Coral Bleaching
Emergency Response to Massive Coral Bleaching
Sep 13, 2019

Surf's Up! World Surf League Helps Corals!

Image may contain: 3 people, including Austin Bowden-Kerby, people smiling, people sitting, outdoor, water and natureThe World Surf League provided flights for our own world-famous coral gardener, Dr. Austin Bowden-Kerby, in this week's effort to help a youth group restore a coral reef in French Polynesia.  Here's Austin (in the red scarf) with a group of surfers and the Moorea Coral Gardeners, having the time of his life on the most beautiful island, just being one of the kids helping to save the reef.

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World-class surfers, several in the photo above, love and respect coral reefs and they want to help.  Once the surfing community found out about Austin's scientific expertise in restoring damaged and threatened coral reefs, he was brought in to train this group of coral advocates in new methods.  Suffice it to say, it is many nautical miles from Fiji to Moorea via NZ and Tahiti.  Austin was able to send this field report & reflections while the coral cuts were fresh, and a few tears of gratitude still flowed.  Here's the newsflash from Sofitel Moorea la Ora Beach Resort:

I am leaving today by boat to Tahiti, to visit another group for training in coral gardening.  Then leave at 2 am tonight for Fiji via NZ.  The trip has been exhausting but incredible. The group gave me a beautiful black pearl that one of their parents had farmed as a going away present. 

Moorea is the most beautiful island I have ever been to. This group has amazing energy but had never been trained, and so were a bit limited in what they were doing with the corals, but very receptive to new ideas and methods.  Twenty or so mostly volunteer staff, over half indigenous, the others mostly French, and in their mid to early 20's and late teens. Among them several Internet whizzes and film makers to produce promotional materials. They get funded by tourism and their parents, they have a steady stream of paying visitors, and they sell t-shirts etc.   I am worn out from the work, pretty much all day in the water, and a hundred small coral cuts.   
The main outcome of the trip is that the group will now be focused on collecting bleaching resistant corals from the very hot pockets- the nearshore shallows- as there are still some of the now rare acropora corals but very few and far between. 
I showed them how to build A-frame nurseries, rope nurseries, and coral cookie nurseries. I also implemented a new and very exciting method for the table acropora species, "coral garland", which translates well into French- 'coral couran' not sure of the spelling.   It reinforces the local Pacific culture of making flower garlands for loved ones.  The method uses 1cm or even more tiny microfragments which trim off so easily from the edge of the colonies--and those are woven into thin polyfilament twine.  After several days the frags are very happy looking. The method is much less damaging on the source colony and I think growth should be amazing.  
Okay it is nearly dawn and I have ten 'mother' corals to cement to their bases, because I have to leave here at 8am.....  Thankfully, the Coral Gardeners headquarters is right on the ocean.  I will be back on the farm for five days and then off to Tuvalu, thanks to Global Giving donors.  Then back to Fiji for international workshop I am giving in Fiji, with trainees coming from Papua New Guinea, Samoa, New Caledonia, Australia, and Fiji.    
Yesterday was my last full day here on Moorea, so lots of time in the water.  I am beginning to suffer from coral cuts and tiredness, but the work needs to get done. We went to a sand bank where the tourists feed the stingrays and got very up close and personal with them, stroking them and they ate from our hands.  At one point I picked up a shell and a seabird {black-capped tern} thought it was food and bit my hand which started to bleed- then the sharks suddenly appeared - in came three of them to check out the blood.... a bit too close for comfort, but the photographers who were in the water were so stoked.  This will hopefully all be on the World Surf League website.  
Vinaka... loloma levu, Austin
Feature from Fiji Times Image may contain: 2 people
I invite you to click on links about coral gardening, World Surf League's PURE effort supporting coral work, and the United Nations Environment link backing community action to protect coral reefs worldwide.  Global Giving will be promoting our Corals for Conservation project and their other Climate Action Fund winning groups during the upcoming United Nations Climate week starting September 23rd. 
You all do so much for us with your commitment to protecting the reefs from the consequences of the quickening pace of climate change and other threats.  You do so much when you share your love through gifts and by your positive thinking-- to restore Austin's energy after a grueling fight for the reefs we love!
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Corals for Conservation

Location: Samabula - Fiji
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Project Leader:
Austin Bowden-Kerby
Samabula, Fiji
$57,663 raised of $75,000 goal
 
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