We recently joined forces with a awesome bunch of like-minded environmentally conscious folk in Quepos. Together we built this beautiful Sailfish made of reused plastic bottles. The entire construction process took more than 180 hours, so working over 15 days. The sculpture consists of over 3500 bottles, 3000 caps, and is an impressive 13 meter in length and weighs 200 kilos.
All this plastic for the art project was collected from our region around Quepos. Much of it is recyclable plastic…however, did you know that plastic cannot be recycled in Costa Rica? In fact, Costa Rica only has the capacity to recycle glass.
All other collected recyclables like plastic, aluminum and paper, have to be exported for recycling with current figures showing that only 9% of plastic collected for recycling is actually recycled. Much of our recycling ends up in landfills in far corners of the globe or burnt, so releasing toxic gases. This is why recycling is no longer the solution for our plastic world..we find alternatives to plastics.
REDUCE, REUSE and REFUSE!
This beautiful sailfish represents a hope for the future of Quepos. Many hands joined together to make it a reality, working together under the blazing sun and the occasional rain storm. Art projects like this are a way to reuse plastics and raise awareness of the plastic problem. Thank you to the Comite Ambiental de Quepos and to the artist, Alban Corrales for letting us work on this amazing project.
Coral reefs are referred to as the underwater cities of our planet. Diverse species collect and congest the underwater habitat. This gives them an appearance of hectic yet systematic city traffic. Warm-water fish and other marine species gather throughout the ecosystem due to their dependency.
This mass collection of colorful marine life allows many curious visitors to experience such beautiful and natural entertainment. Although when coral reefs are brought up for discussion, we tend to think of this tropical climate only a few feet below the surface, but that is not always the case. Here are some fun facts about the amazing coral reefs that maybe you didn’t know.
They are not just shallow water lovers..
Deep-sea coral reefs can thrive as deep as 2,000m below sea level. With little to no exposure to sunlight, they result to feeding on microscopic organisms where current flow is accelerated. Other marine organisms such as deep sea shrimp and crab depend on these tree like shaped structures for habitat. Deep-sea corals grow about 5-25mm a year and form groves of tree, feather, column, or fan structures. Although they take their time, the underwater gardens created in the depths are very extraordinary. Enough to keep scientists wanting more, despite what little knowledge we currently possess about the depths.
They have healing properties
Scientists may not have all the answers to questions associated with the depths of our oceans. Although we like to think that we have all the answers about the purpose of more shallow water reefs. We are constantly discovering new key advantages the reef provides for not only marine life, but for humans. Scientists have discovered that the coral’s chemical compounds they produce can be used for numerous healing techniques and medications. For example, for patients suffering from illnesses such as heart disease, viruses and human bacterial infections. Also Alzheimer’s disease, and even cancer. Much more research is still in store, but coral reefs have been considered the “medicine of the 21st century”.
They have ways of looking after themselves too
Coral reefs are being studied worldwide for their ability to heal humans suffering from various illnesses. They are also being consumed by these humans globally. Yet who is taking care of the coral when they are sick? Different reactions have been displayed by the coral in an effort to get our attention. I think by far the most fascinating presentation has been the Glowing Corals. Coral Bleaching has been a recent but very serious issue which is caused by climate change and has caused the coral to suffer greatly from the heat. In response, the coral develops a sunscreen-like chemical that is very vibrant, giving off a fascinating glow throughout the reef.
Watch your sunblock please!
Although corals are able to produce sunscreen, the topic of sunscreen still needs to be discussed. Studies have shown that many top brand sunscreens we use such as Tropicana and Coppertone possess harmful chemicals like Oxybenzone and Octinoxate which are essentially absorbed by the coral. The chemicals accumulate in the tissue and cause the same reaction to coral as rising ocean temperatures do, coral bleaching. Places such as Hawaii and Palau are taking part in the banning of harmful coral reef sunscreens and a better future for the underwater ecosystem is hopeful.
Plastic? No thank you!
We are fighting for a better future for coral reefs globally but face many obstacles caused by the destructive behavior of man. One of the most concerning issues is the pollution of plastics. Studies found that Astrangia corals actually prefer microplastics over their regular diet (shrimp eggs). Because there is such a large quantity of plastic found in the ocean, researchers have found over 100 pieces of microplastic in the guts of wild coral. I guess you could call this a guilty pleasure.
Eating is a friendly affair
Coral must have a strong digestive system to consume that much plastic. How do corals consume plastic and other food daily? They do not have eyes therefor it is impossible to hunt visually. Instead, they have strategically developed a relationship with tiny algae living within them called zooxanthellae. The zoox capture sunlight which is converted into sugar for energy. The energy is then transferred to the coral polyp and provides the necessary nourishment. Coral also uses its intelligence to capture food in a very different way. At night, the coral polyps arise from their skeletons and use their stinging tentacles to capture tiny floating zooplankton nearby. Once the prey is captured, it is then pulled into the corals mouth and digested. This strategy therefor classifies coral as an animal.
Lets get it on……
Like every animal, corals reproduce. But as you can tell by now, nothing about coral is “normal” or “boring”. Of course neither is their reproductive system. They can reproduce both asexually and sexually. Coral reproduces asexually by budding or fragmentation. When budding, the new polyps leave their parent polyps and form new colonies. When fragmentation occurs, an entire colony of coral breaks off to form a new colony. This method is used in many coral restoration efforts. But this also occurs due to storm or boat grounding.
When Coral reproduces sexually, both sperm and egg is released. For some corals, such as Elkhart and Boulder corals, one colony will produce sperm while another colony produces only eggs. For other coral species such as Brain coral, both sperm and eggs are produced at the same time. The coral larvae can be fertilized in either the body of the coral or in the surrounding water. This process is called spawning.
Synchronization is key
Spawning can occur as a mass synchronized event which draws in many curious visitors. The larvae make their way to the surface of the ocean, which gives off a rather out of this world appearance. Then they make it to where the water meets the air. Following that they begin their final descent back to the ocean floor where they will settle and attach to a hard surface (that is, if they don’t get eaten first). Once attached, they begin their growth cycle and start the process all over again. It is not an easy life for coral, but their complexity and beauty is what keeps us wanting to know more. We still have much to learn about coral reefs and its inhabitants, but the facts that we have discovered shape our way for the future.
The moray eel is I believe one of the most misjudged creatures on the reef. “He was trying to bite me” is something I have heard from many a misinformed diver. When you explain how amazing they are and that they are just breathing it puts a whole new light on them. So, not that I need to convince you of their amazingness, but here are 5 amazing facts about the slithery moray eel.
Moray eels have 2 sets of jaws- one jaw is located further back and can come forward when trying to capture their prey. When the first set of closes on their prey the second one launches forward and grabs onto it and pulls it backwards into the throat. Moray eels can even eat SHARKS!! Moray eels are the only known species to use the second jaw as a weapon against their prey.
We only come out at night
Most of them are nocturnal. Eels can’t actually see too well so they rely on mainly smell to hunt because of this they don’t mind the darkness. The dark also provides more cover for the predators so their prey can’t see their attack!
They come in a large number of sizes
The biggest moray eel can grow up to 9-10ft long which is bigger than a human and a bottlenose dolphin!! The smallest moray eel is the minute moray which only grows up to 14cm. Also, the giant moray eel can weigh at least 66lbs\30kg and the Abbotts moray can weigh only 30g.
How many species are there?
There are about 200 different types of species some of which are fresh water, salt water and brackish water (which is when the water is only slightly salty because the river water is mixing with seawater.)
The green moray eel is actually brown.
The color comes from the mucus that makes them look green and also makes them really slimy so that they can slip into small cracks and holes without damaging their skin. They will stay in these small cracks and holes and wait for their prey.