A Hopeful Future for Bali’s Reefs

Nyoman is spearheading efforts in Tulamben, Bali to save coral reefs.

Coral reefs are a hot topic these days. They’re all over the news—coral bleaching, constructing islands on top of reefs, and sunscreen pollution. Even the Washington Post has been running a series of articles on coral reefs. I’ve worked with corals for more than 10 years and I can’t remember a time when they’ve ever been so mainstream and popular. But here’s the problem: it’s all doom and gloom. All of the news that’s coming out is bad news. Where’s the optimism? Where’s the hope? Where are the success stories? That’s one of the things I love about CORAL. We know we CAN save coral reefs, and with the right amount of support, we WILL. And that’s why I enjoyed my most recent trip to Bali, Indonesia. I strategically aligned my trip so I could attend the first-ever Buleleng Bali Dive Festival, which was held in Pemuteran. Some of you may remember hearing about it at our 2014 Gala, when the Indonesian Minister of Fisheries and … [Read more...]

El Niño: Will It Hurt Coral Reefs?

Palmyra (5)

You’ve probably heard about it in the news. You may even remember living through it in the early 80s and 90s. El Niño is here. It's already impacting the Pacific Ocean and this August, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) saw variances in sea surface temperatures near or greater than 2.0 degrees Celsius. El Niño refers to warming waters in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Those warmer waters spread to the east, bringing with them a drastic change in weather patterns. Scientists predict that this year's El Niño is extreme and may last through the spring of 2016. That means trouble for coral reefs. In fact, NOAA recently announced that "bleaching due to heat stress is expected to impact approximately 38 percent of the world’s coral reefs—and almost 95% of those in U.S. waters." When water temperatures grow too warm, corals become stressed and oust the tiny algae that live in their tissues, called zooxanthellae. … [Read more...]

A True Traditional Voyage


The CORAL family came together last week in a unique way. A few months ago, the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) reached out to Jaya Ratha, our program coordinator in Bali, to help organize the arrival of the Hōkūleʻa in Indonesia. The Hōkūleʻa is a double-hulled standing canoe traveling around the world using traditional navigation methods. Their voyage, called Mālama Honua, or to care for the Earth, is an effort to bring together global partners to protect our Earth and our oceans. “One of the things that was interesting to me was that Hawaiʻi and Bali have a lot of similarities in terms of culture,” said Ratha. Bali and Hawaiʻi were designated as sister states back in 2014, as they are both hugely popular tourism destinations and they share similar histories. This amazing around-the-world voyage brought the Hawaiian culture and heritage to Indonesia—making these two diverse islands feel incredibly connected. As a complete … [Read more...]

A New Bike Path for Maui?


Aloha, I’m CORAL’s newest addition based in Hawaiʻi. As a native Hawaiian, my passion for protecting our natural environment is a deep part of who I am. I was born and raised on Oahu, and growing up spent my summers surfing with my dad, paddling canoe with my sister, and working in the Lo’i (taro patch) with my aunty. We have an important value of mālama ‘aina in my culture, which means caring for the land. This responsibility is a big part of our identity and is the basis for a lot of our traditional beliefs. So I can’t help but get really excited when I see our island come together on sustainability initiatives. That’s how I felt a couple of weeks ago when we partnered with the Maui Bicycling League (MBL) to take Alan Arakawa, the mayor of Maui, on a bike ride along our island’s west coast. A couple of month’s ago, I was talking with CORAL’s Program Manager from Hawaiʻi, Wes Crile, about how much we’d love to build a coastal … [Read more...]

Putting the LID on stormwater runoff

algae and sediment pollution on beach near reef Maui

From a conservation point of view, we don’t often think of coral reefs going hand in hand with construction and development. But they do—coral reefs attract tourists, and with tourism comes infrastructure. Coral reefs also provide benefits to communities, and people tend to concentrate in areas where they can reap those benefits. Over the years coral reefs along Maui’s West coast have fallen victim to this cycle. As more houses, hotels, roads, and other infrastructure projects are created, more and more rainwater runs off into the ocean, bringing with it nutrients and sediment that are harmful to the reefs. Earlier this summer we partnered with the Sustainable Living Institute of Maui (SLIM) to hold a six-week course for West Maui’s landscapers, landowners, and accommodations industry professionals to address this issue. The course taught them about various low impact design (LID) principles they could implement in landscape and … [Read more...]

Photos Informing Conservation


More than a quarter of coral reefs around the world are in a protected area—yet, according to Reefs at Risk Revisited, most of those protected areas aren’t being effectively managed. Much of our work is focused on helping communities develop successful management programs so they can create and enforce local regulations that will really benefit their coral reefs. And the first step is often to design a management plan. We’ve known for a long time that for a management plan to be successful, it has to be built around local resources, traditions, and customs. So naturally, our first step in working with a community is always to learn as much as we can about the area and really understand the dynamics and relationships. Next we help them gather and compile information about their environments, cultures, and lifestyles. This is what we’ve been doing in Bali, where communities have created seven marine protected areas on the north … [Read more...]

Namena is a Source of Life, and Not Just Marine Life

Namena 295

One of my favorite things about working for CORAL is hearing about the direct impacts we have on local communities and people’s lives. It’s not every day that you hear about conservation efforts that have enhanced people’s lives, and it’s such a powerful thing to know that communities can really thrive and benefit from protecting their natural resources. So when I hear about how our work translates into benefits for local communities, it warms me from the inside out. I had one of those moments recently when speaking with Juliane Diamond, one of our program managers. She was in Fiji last month, and attended a stakeholders meeting for the Namena Marine Reserve. The meeting was held by the Kubulau Resource Management Committee (KRMC), a local NGO we’re working with to protect the Reserve. Juliane was there along with about twenty other people—a mix of community members, dive operators, KRMC members, local authority figures, and … [Read more...]

Last Line of Defense


After writing about West Maui for over five years as CORAL’s grants manager, I finally had the opportunity to visit the island on a recent vacation. I got to see first-hand how West Maui’s hotels and resorts are literally the last line of defense for adjacent coral reefs. Driving the North Loop Coastline Road Hwy 30, you are feet away from the ocean; as you approach Lahaina, resorts grow in size and grandeur, hugging every inch of land to maximize beach access. One of the highlights of driving this road—for the inner CORAL-geek in me—was seeing several of our Respecting Coral Reefs signs. Not only was there one at the hotel I was staying at, but I also saw signs at many of the beaches I visited or drove by. CORAL has helped install more than 50 of these signs throughout the Hawaiian Islands, educating snorkelers and beachgoers about the many types of coral and marine life they may encounter and providing tips on how to enjoy the reefs … [Read more...]

It’s All About the Ahupua’a

Hawai'i Field Managers Erica Perez (left) and Wes Crile (right) talk about the threats to Puako's coral reefs with Conservation Programs Director Jason Vasquez

One of the things I love most about our staff at the Coral Reef Alliance is that we all share the same passion for coral reefs. So for those of us in our headquarters office in Oakland, California, it’s always a treat when we get to travel to our field sites and see the reefs we work so hard to save. I recently had a chance to travel to Hawai‘i with a few others from headquarters and meet with our field team there. Much of our week-long visit was focused around a single question: what do we need to do in the next five years in order to save coral reefs in Hawai‘i? On the surface, it sounds simple enough. We know that coastal pollution is a primary threat to reefs in Hawai‘i. So as long as we can reduce the amount of runoff entering the marine environment, we should be good, right? It’s once we actually started delving in to that answer, and the process and needs started to unravel, that I realized just how complicated the … [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...]