Stories tagged coral reef

Jun
11
2010

Dive in and explore: Discover amazing videos, pictures, and cool ocean stuff, including teacher resources and actions you can take.
Dive in and explore: Discover amazing videos, pictures, and cool ocean stuff, including teacher resources and actions you can take.Courtesy Smithsonian Ocean Portal

Today marks the 100th birthday of the late, great ocean explorer and visionary Jacques Cousteau. How many remember watching “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau” on TV—either as a kid or with their kids? For many of us in the 1960s and 70s, a Cousteau TV special was a major event that brought the whole family together. His programs were how we first came to love and appreciate the marine world and see the effects of human actions. Cousteau was truly ahead of his time, and his conservation ethic is needed more than ever as we tackle problems like climate change, overfishing, pollution, and—of course—the devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
We can draw inspiration from his example and take steps to help the ocean. Some of the most important actions you can take involve making changes in your own home, driveway, and workplace. The newly launched Smithsonian Ocean Portal is an award-winning website designed to help people connect with the ocean and “Find Their Blue.” More than 20 organizations have joined forces to build this site as a way to inspire and engage more people in ocean science and issues. Why not start today, as a birthday gift to Cousteau?
Tell us how he inspired you
and learn more about sharks and squids, coral reefs, the deep ocean, the Gulf oil spill, and much more. Dive in and explore!
Colleen Marzec, Managing Producer
Smithsonian Ocean Portal

Aug
04
2009

I am constantly amazed by the world around me. Algae turned into fuel, energy turbines underwater and now this! A chemical derivative from coral is about to be used in a new kind of pain medication.

Painkillers with the essence of coral in them will be used for a certain kind of pain, not just your average headache that an aspirin can take care of. Neuropathic pain in less complex terms is chronic pain, and comes from having damaged nerves. Many things can cause damaged nerves. This is the kind of pain that morphine can only curb slightly.

Christmas Tree Worms...? Coral? Is that you?: If you're not going to save it because it's got the cure, save it because it's pretty!
Christmas Tree Worms...? Coral? Is that you?: If you're not going to save it because it's got the cure, save it because it's pretty!Courtesy Nhobgood

Capnella imbricata, or Kenya Tree Coral grows in the waters surrounding Taiwan. After extracting the chemical in question it was put through drug trials. The early trials where the drug was used on rats has shown some success. This isn't the first drug to be derived from coral. People suffering from HIV and certain cardiovascular diseases have also been aided by the the underwater sponge.

Capnellene works with the cells that surround the damaged nerve endings (the ones scientists think are causing all the pain) to lessen pain, pain that may be caused by inflammation around the nerve.

In a related article, coral reefs all of the world are still in peril. The ocean around Indonesia and other countries in Southeast Asia are thought to contain 75% of all the world's coral species. This area, called the Coral Triangle is particularly endangered and it is estimated that 40% of it has been damaged and lost in the last 40 years. For pain's sake, or rather the sake of those suffering from chronic pain, lets lay off the reefs for awhile, huh? Give them a break! We really need them. Really. Just think of all the undiscovered cures that lay out there...

Apr
20
2008

Palau reef: where the party gets started
Palau reef: where the party gets startedCourtesy zolas box
Over the next few days, the Palau reef in the West Pacific will experience a frenzy of activities as the reefs' coral denizens partake in their annual mating ritual. Although there won't be any of the usual Spring Break antics such as wet t-shirt or bikini contests, excessive drinking, or stupid male shenanigans, one thing there will be is lots and lots of rampant reproduction.

Just after sunset tonight, or perhaps tomorrow or maybe even the next night, billions upon billions of the coral colonies' eggs and sperm will be unleashed in cute little orange and pink packages that will rise to the surface where they'll lose their inhibitions, burst open, dance and intermingle under the moonlight, and develop into billions of coral larvae. If conditions are right the sheer number of the event's participants can sometimes form huge slicks on the surface that can be seen from space. In the end most of the spawn or larvae gets eaten before it develops fully, but since there's so many of them in the first place, it doesn't really matter.

Anyway, a few days later, any surviving coral larvae will float exhausted to the sea bottom in hopes of attaching themselves to some good solid structure where they develop into baby coral polyps, thus adding more coral to the reef, and living happily ever after. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it?

The 300 island archipelago making up the republic of Palau is located 155 miles above the equator about 550 miles east of the Philippines. The reefs in the vicinity are in good condition ecologically, but the annual spawning has attracted scientists from Great Britain, Australia, and the Philippines, who are in Palau to gather "seeding" material for other less fortunate coral reefs.

The research team won't be using spawning material from the open reefs but instead will harvest it from pieces of coral they've collected and keep in a controlled laboratory environment at the Palau International Coral Reef Center. The larvae from the experiment are then transplanted into a suitable environment conducive to reef-building.

With many of the world's coral reef environments suffering from the effects of pollution, over-fishing, and other factors, the researchers hope seeding damaged reefs with the harvested spawn from healthier ones will help restore the fragile ecosystems.

STORY SOURCE
BBC website

Sep
18
2007

Underwater mobile home: Aquarius is the underwater home for researchers for their current nine-day mission off the coast of Florida. The tube is about the same size as a school bus.
Underwater mobile home: Aquarius is the underwater home for researchers for their current nine-day mission off the coast of Florida. The tube is about the same size as a school bus.
As the like to say in “The Godfather,” do you want to sleep with the fishes?

A team of six scientists – aquanauts – Monday started a nine-day project where they’re living and working 24-7 60 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean on Florida’s reefs. They’ve set up Aquarius Reef Base about nine miles southeast of Key Largo.

And you can be there virtually with an Internet link up. Real-time updates and video feeds are available at www.oceanslive.org or www.uncw.edu/nurc/aquarius.

Crew quarters: Inside Aquarius, scientists can watch what their partners are doing out on the ocean floor. And we can watch what they're doing through Internet connections. (Photos from www.uncw.edu/nurc/aquarius)
Crew quarters: Inside Aquarius, scientists can watch what their partners are doing out on the ocean floor. And we can watch what they're doing through Internet connections. (Photos from www.uncw.edu/nurc/aquarius)
The research will be focusing on the marine habitats around the reef and impacts that rising water temperatures and human pollution might be having on that environment.

Aquarius is school bus-sized tube with a diameter of nine feet that the aquanauts will be living in. And it’s actually been at that location for 21 years. Inside Aquarius, the researchers have bunk beds, showers, a microwave oven and computers to handle their Internet link ups.

Some of the experiments and research the aquanauts will be doing will gather data to compare with findings from earlier dives. A special focus on this dive will be to gather more information about sponges and soft corals of the area.

Jul
02
2007

Hurricane help: New research is finding that the churning waters from hurricanes can speed up the recovery of coral beds suffering from coral bleaching. (Photo from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association)
Hurricane help: New research is finding that the churning waters from hurricanes can speed up the recovery of coral beds suffering from coral bleaching. (Photo from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association)
After seeing the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, among other recent storms, hurricanes have been fighting a losing p.r. war. They’re just plain bad, right?

But new research is showing that the effects of hurricane weather can have a positive impact on some coral beds, particularly those that are suffering from stress caused by warming water temperatures. Ironically, warming waters is one of the factors that lead to more and bigger hurricanes.

A team of researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has found that hurricanes off of Florida and the Virgin Islands in 2005 were a benefit to “bleaching” coral beds in those areas. The bleaching problem is caused by the loss of algae in the area and a reduction in the pigments of the corals in the area when they’re stressed by warm weather.

Hurricanes Rita and Wilma in 2005 stirred up the waters of those bleached coral beds and were able to lower the water temperatures in the impacted coral beds by as much as nine degrees.

That water temperature saw a quicker recovery rate for the bleached coral beds. The researchers also point out that a direct hit by a hurricane to a coral bed still did vast damage, but areas on the edges of the storm showed improvement on the bleaching condition. Those improvements could be seen as far as 250 miles away from the hurricane’s main path.