“Plarn” Reefs Featured in New Maui Airport Display

Hawai'i Field Manager Wes Crile with Maui Airport Representatives in front of CORAL's displays

Earlier this year, thanks to support from the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, we were able to set up two display cases in the Maui airport to educate travelers about the importance of protecting coral reefs. The cases highlight some easy ways visitors and locals can protect reefs, and feature a crochet coral reef made out of plarn, or plastic yarn, by The Pennington School. We were thrilled to be able to highlight the Crochet Reef Project and use it to help bring awareness to the struggle coral reefs face around the world. Read more about this project in the article below, written by one of The Pennington School teachers. The Pennington School (Middle School) Crochet Reef Project By Lisa Fitzpatrick, Middle School English Teacher, The Pennington School In 2008, the sixth grade entered into an interdisciplinary unit (IDU) during the fourth quarter. The broad topic was marine biology, but the focus in 2011 was on coral reef ecology. In … [Read more...]

More People, More Trash

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By Naneng Setiasih, Coral Triangle Regional Manager The small-fishing village of Tulamben in Bali struggled with poverty for decades, but that changed with a series of unfortunate events a few decades ago. The USS Liberty beached along its rocky shore after being torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in 1942. And in 1963 the eruption of Mount Agung pushed the ship into the ocean, making it quickly one of the most well-known wreck dives in the world. It wasn’t long before tourism became the main source of income for the community. Today, Tulamben is known as one of the best dive spots in Bali, and the USS Liberty wreck can see upwards of 100 people per day during the high season. But with tourism comes more people, and more people means more stress on the marine ecosystems. We started working with the Tulamben community in 2013 to help them manage their coral reefs, and the community is starting to mobilize to take action—notably … [Read more...]

Nyoman Sugiarta…Where Is He Now?

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Since winning the CORAL Conservation Prize a few months ago, Nyoman Sugiarta has been putting his prize money back into protecting his community’s coral reefs. Nyoman won $20,000 on September 20, 2014 as the first ever CORAL Conservation Prize winner. So what is he doing now? He recently quit his job as villa caretaker and fisherman to focus full-time on developing a sustainable dive tourism industry in his hometown of Bondalem in Bali. This will generate support for his community’s marine protected area, as well as provide alternative livelihoods for fishermen to reduce the amount of fishing pressure on the reef. In December, Nyoman and his partners from the community surveillance group he used to work at invited the rest of the Bondalem community to attend a meeting to discuss the potential for tourism in the area. Our Coral Triangle Regional Field Manager Naneng Setiasih was a guest speaker at the meeting, and was able to … [Read more...]

Making a Splash with Microgrants

Sophia Anner, CORAL Intern

By Sophia Anner, CORAL Intern and student at Albany High School As a student in the Environmental Design, Science, Engineering, and Technology (EDSET) program at Albany High School in Albany, California, I get to take courses with an emphasis on the environment, as well as intern with an environmental organization. I chose CORAL because I have always been interested in the ocean, especially as a child, and I thought learning about coral reefs would be especially intriguing since I previously didn’t have much knowledge about them. This semester, I’ve been researching CORAL’s microgrant program. I first compiled all of the archived information that existed on the microgrants they’ve handed out and sorted them by location. I then analyzed the data and wrote up a final report showing which categories of microgrants received the most grant money and how that money was used. Since 1995, CORAL has given out 96 microgrants to 17 … [Read more...]

Honduras NGOs Unite!

13 NGOs working to protect the marine and coastal resources of Honduras met in Tela to discuss future collaborations

Successful coral reef conservation begins with networks—not only networks of locally-managed marine protected areas, but also networks of people. That’s why we hosted a meeting on October 27 that brought together more than 13 organizations from Honduras. The day had one goal: to build alliances between a host of organizations that are all working toward the same outcome—a healthy and thriving coastal and marine environment in Honduras. Rather than a formal agenda, each group presented about their work for 10 minutes, and then led a question and answer session that often turned into lively and stimulating conversations where everyone shared their ideas, their frustrations, what works, and what doesn’t. The meeting was purposefully left rather unstructured to allow for relationships to organically form. And it certainly worked. The group has already had a follow-up meeting, and is collaborating to secure a higher level of … [Read more...]

Effective Management for the Pacific Remote Islands

coral reef at Palmyra Atoll

I was thrilled when I heard the news about President Obama creating the largest marine reserve in the world by expanding the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument (PRINMM). At CORAL, we work all over the world to create networks of marine protected areas. But with any marine protected area, successful management is always a struggle. And it’s something we’re working to address. How do you make sure a marine protected area is going to be managed and enforced, and how do you get the local community and stakeholders to buy-in and support the effort? So naturally when I heard about the PRINMM, I couldn’t help but wonder—how is the area going to be managed? How are they going to get the buy-in of key stakeholders? How will they enforce regulations? The new reserve is going to be six times its current size—it will span across 383,000 acres. And it holds some of the most pristine and healthy coral reef ecosystems in the world. … [Read more...]

Lawsuits and Floating Workshops Give Promise to Hawaii Reefs

Floating workshop. Photo by Amanda Stone

On May 30, 2014, a federal court ruling found the County of Maui, which operates the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility, to be in violation of the Clean Water Act. This ruling was in relation to injection wells which the County uses to dispose of treated wastewater effluent. The effluent travels underground through groundwater, and percolates up into coastal coral reefs of West Maui through submarine springs (seeps). This inflow of warm, nutrient rich, and oxygen poor water is negatively impacting these reefs. Although CORAL was not a party to this particular lawsuit, which was filed by several environmental groups, we are equally concerned about how this acute water pollution issue is harming the reefs. CORAL, along with other conservation organizations, has been working with the County, the accommodations industry, and local community members to address this issue by encouraging the reuse of this treated water as an … [Read more...]

Shifting Baselines

Me (Kate) diving in Cozumel. Photo by CORAL staff

As part of CORAL’s development team, I don’t get many opportunities to go into the field. But last month, I joined Field Programs Director Jason Vasques on a trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico, for a series of meetings relating to our work with the Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative (MARTI). Now, not only are trips into the field a little rarer for us development folk, but I didn’t join CORAL with much of a conservation or marine biology background. When I joined CORAL in the summer of 2009, my only interaction with a reef was snorkeling in Bermuda when I was seven. Had I not taken this job, I am not sure I would have ever pursued SCUBA certification. Having said that, when in Rome . . . In the winter of 2011, when my first work trip to our project site in Mexico was approaching, I gave more serious thought to the idea of getting certified. Not wanting to miss out on an opportunity to see firsthand what it is that I spend my days … [Read more...]

Making Scientific Research Relevant

Mushroom coral (Fungia sp.) in Palmyra. Photo by CORAL staff

Scientific research has great potential to inform conservation efforts. All too often, however, scientific results that could be useful languish on library shelves (or get lost in the cloud) instead. Some researchers make concerted efforts to address real-world questions, but these attempts frequently fail because the researchers do not fully understand what kind of information will be most useful to managers and conservation professionals. If on-the-ground practitioners are consulted, it’s usually at the end of a project when they are asked how they will use a new tool or newly revealed information, at which point the opportunity to guide development of the new tool or the type of information collected has long passed. The Reefs Tomorrow Initiative* (RTI) has taken a different approach to ensure that our research results address the most pressing needs of managers and conservation professionals. Parallel to our scientific pursuits, … [Read more...]

Visiting Reefs and Rain Gardens with the Mayor of Maui County

Heading into the water with Mayor Arakawa (blue shirt).Photo by CORAL staff

On a beautiful and uncharacteristically calm afternoon in February, Maui County’s Mayor, Alan Arakawa, arrived at Kahekili Beach Park, barefoot and carrying a mask and fins in a bucket. Mayor Arakawa was eager to get in the water to dive with CORAL and our partners from the West Maui Ridge to Reef Initiative and the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources ("DAR") to check out the reef. We had invited the Mayor and Rob Parsons, Executive Assistant for Environmental Concerns, to join us to visit priority watershed conservation sites in West Maui—primarily the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area (“KHFMA”), designated by the US Coral Reef Task Force as a top priority. We wanted to see the reef firsthand and talk about solutions to the many interconnected threats facing our reefs. As it turns out, our mayor is an avid waterman. He told us that he has dived reefs all over Maui throughout his life, but hadn’t been out diving in over a … [Read more...]