Coastal Communities Protect Coral Communities

Marine ecosystems, particularly coral reefs, face an onslaught of crises that threaten the health and stability of marine life. Since many of these threats are directly or indirectly related to anthropogenic impacts, it is important that communities take action to protect and preserve fragile coral reef ecosystems from the threats that we can control. PBF works with coral communities to minimize threats to coral reefs and protect reefs for future generations.

Crown of Thorns Starfish Threaten Corals

One of the threats that coral reefs face, is being eaten alive. The Crown of Thorns Starfish (COTS) population has grown significantly as a result of the overfishing of their predators, such as the humphead wrasse and Giant Triton. Water pollution also increases the growth of COTS’ larvae, only adding to the problem. PBF began coordinating with Yanuca Island locals to control the COTS population while the population of their predators slowly recovers.

Coral Analysis in Panama

Rising water temperatures are believed to cause coral bleaching, the expulsion of symbiotic algae from coral reefs, resulting in the white look of coral. Higher temperatures also seem to lead to other diseases, possibly transmitted more easily in warmer temperatures or because corals are in a particularly weakened state. PBF funded the analysis of coral bleaching in Panama to better understand coral reefs’ ability to recover.

Mesophotic Coral Reef Research

Mesophotic coral reefs are more than thirty meters deep and have not been studied extensively. These deep-water corals may prove to be in a safer position than their shallow dwelling brethren. Increasing ocean temperatures are causing coral bleaching, leaving corals bone-white and devastated closer to the surface. These temperature increases, however, are not as drastic in deeper waters, allowing mesophotic reefs a refuge from rising temperatures as well as direct human impacts.

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