5 Funtastic Coral facts

5 Funtastic Coral facts

The Wonders of Coral Reefs: Unveiling 5 Fascinating Facts

Coral reefs, often considered the vibrant metropolises of the ocean, are teeming with life and captivating beauty. Beyond their picturesque appearance lies a world of fascinating facts that make these underwater ecosystems truly exceptional. In this article, we will delve into five funtastic facts about coral reefs, shedding light on their crucial roles, incredible biodiversity, and the captivating dynamics of these marine wonderlands.

Coral in Costa rica

Fact 1: Coral Reefs - Not Just Pretty Faces

Contrary to popular belief, coral reefs are not static structures; they are dynamic, living organisms. Unlike plants, these underwater wonders don’t whip up their own meals through photosynthesis. Instead, they are composed of colonies of tiny organisms known as polyps. These polyps, akin to microscopic powerhouses, collaborate to build the intricate structures that we recognize as coral reefs.

Imagine a bustling neighborhood, where a quarter of all marine species convene for the ultimate underwater block party. Coral reefs serve as the epicenter of this marine fiesta, providing a habitat for an astonishing array of fish, invertebrates, and other marine creatures. Every nook and cranny of the reef becomes a hotspot for oceanic diversity, creating an underwater realm that rivals any terrestrial ecosystem in its complexity and interdependence.

Fact 2: Aquatic Custodians of Cleanliness

Beyond their role as marine meeting grounds, coral reefs play a crucial role as nature’s underwater janitors. These aquatic custodians filter and purify their watery homes with an efficiency that surpasses any oceanic mop and bucket. Through a process known as nutrient cycling, coral reefs remove excess nutrients from the water, preventing algal overgrowth and maintaining a delicate balance in the ecosystem.

Picture the reefs as diligent cleaners, tirelessly working to ensure the health and vitality of their surroundings. As they filter the water, coral reefs contribute to maintaining the pristine conditions that support the incredible biodiversity thriving within their structures. Let’s take a moment to applaud these unsung heroes of the ocean – the coral reefs, the true custodians of cleanliness beneath the waves.

Pavona gigantea - Corals of Costa Rica

Fact 3: Sun-Seeking Beach Bums of the Sea

Coral reefs, much like sunbathers on a tropical beach, require sunlight to grow and thrive. These marine ecosystems depend on sunlight for a process called photosynthesis, which takes place within the symbiotic relationship between the coral polyps and microscopic algae called zooxanthellae. The coral provides a safe haven for the algae, and in return, the algae supply the coral with essential nutrients.

However, just like humans, coral reefs can suffer from too much heat. Excessive heat, often caused by rising sea temperatures due to climate change, can lead to a phenomenon known as coral bleaching. This is analogous to the ocean’s version of a sunburn, where the coral expels the algae, resulting in a loss of color and vitality. To ensure the well-being of these underwater ecosystems, it is crucial to keep coral reefs within the optimal temperature zone, allowing them to continue groovin’ and thriving in their watery abode.

Fact 4: Shore Defenders and Wave Tamers

Coral reefs hold the prestigious title of VIPs (Very Important Protectors) along coastlines, as they play a vital role in reducing coastal wave energy. Studies have shown that coral reefs can slash coastal wave energy by an impressive 97%. Acting as nature’s breakwaters, these underwater structures provide a formidable defense against the erosive forces of waves and storms.

The intricate architecture of coral reefs acts as a natural barrier, dissipating the energy of incoming waves and protecting coastal areas from erosion and damage. In addition to their aesthetic appeal, coral reefs serve as the ultimate shore defenders, making waves and keeping it cool along the coastlines they inhabit.

coral in Costa Rica

Fact 5: Vulnerability and Conservation

Despite their resilience, coral reefs face numerous threats that jeopardize their existence. Human activities such as overfishing, pollution, and climate change pose significant risks to these delicate ecosystems. Rising sea temperatures, in particular, contribute to coral bleaching and the deterioration of reef health.

Conservation efforts are critical to preserving the biodiversity and ecological functions of coral reefs. Initiatives like marine protected areas, sustainable fishing practices, and global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions play pivotal roles in safeguarding these underwater marvels. As stewards of the planet, it is our responsibility to take proactive measures to protect and conserve coral reefs for future generations.

Want to get involved ?

With all of the projects we work hard on throughout the year, we are always looking for help. You can get involved with one of our internship or volunteer programs.

About the Author

Vera Mkhsian is an 18 year old Intern from Los Angeles, California. She is currently a Anthropology student studying to be an Archeologist with a focus in Marine development. A future archaeologist set on diving deep into the ocean’s secrets, Vera dreams of merging the worlds of archaeology and marine biology. Vera actively looks for opportunities to work with scientists to untangle the intertwined tales of human history and ocean life, as she is eager to bridge the gap between archaeology and marine biology.

You can get involved with one of our internship or volunteer programs.

Apply Now

Diving into Conservation: A Guide

Diving into Conservation: A Guide

Diving into Conservation: A Guide 

Conservation is the conscientious effort to protect and preserve our natural environment, its resources, and the biodiversity that it sustains.

This essential practice aims to maintain the delicate balance of Earth's ecosystems, ensuring they can thrive and provide for current and future generations. .

Conservation can broadly be divided into two types.

In-situ

Conservation of habitats, species and ecosystems where they naturally occur. This is in-situ conservation and the natural processes and interaction are conserved as well as the elements of biodiversity.

Ex-situ

The conservation of elements of biodiversity out of the context of their natural habitats is referred to as ex-situ conservation. Zoos, botanical gardens and seed banks are all examples of ex-situ conservation.

There are 2 types of Conservation; In-situ and Ex-situ

At MCCR we focus on biodiversity conservation for protecting and preserving the variety of underwater life. To do that, we use the In-situ way of conservation by creating new nurseries of several corals. Currently, in our coral restoration project, we are working with four different species of endemic hard corals. Coral fragments are collected from healthy coral colonies opportunistically. These coral fragments are then fragmented and cultivated on discs in our ocean nurseries, which are located near our targeted reef restoration sites.

Coral reef systems play a vital role in maintaining the well-being of our oceans. By promoting the overall health of these reefs, we are nurturing the well-being of the countless species that rely on them for their survival.

The primary goal of MCCR is undeniably coral restoration and conservation. However, our efforts go beyond this, encompassing educational initiatives through events and awareness campaigns. Additionally, we offer PADI courses, which serve as a valuable means of educating individuals. People are more inclined to alter their consumption habits when they possess a comprehensive understanding of environmental issues and their effects on the seabed. Offering diving courses can enhance people’s appreciation for marine biodiversity and foster a stronger commitment to its preservation.

Disclaimer : 

Conservation is crucial, but not a complete solution. It serves as a safety net rather than a panacea. While conservation is indispensable for preservation, it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Our primary goal should be preventing environmental damage by embracing sustainability, reducing our ecological footprint, and making conscientious choices. Together, we can ensure a healthier planet for both present and future generations. Conservation is indeed vital and can help address damage already caused, but our foremost focus should be on prevention through sustainable practices, responsible consumption, and eco-friendly policies.

Written by Justine Verburgh

My Experience as an Environmental Education Intern

My Experience as an Environmental Education Intern

My Environmental Education Experience 

 

social media intern

One of our recent interns, Joe came and joined us for a month, assisting with our environmental education program. This is about his experience with us. 

In my time working with Marine Conservation Costa Rica (MCCR) I have experienced growth and bonding, and learned exceedingly. Working in the Environmental Education internship, I have helped to organize lessons, learn new teaching skills, and about the importance and intricacies of conservation. Not to mention, I have hugely improved on my Spanish.

 I had the unique opportunity to go into a primary school and teach in Spanish about marine conservation. While this sounded daunting to me at first, the experience was invaluable. Teaching gave me confidence and a better understanding of how to help people learn in a productive and educational way. It was great because not only was I teaching others, but I was also learning too. I went from knowing limited Spanish to far more competent very quickly and felt comfortable speaking, answering and understanding Spanish. I was also helped every step of the way by the fantastic team at MCCR who allowed me to feel optimistic in the face of a big task. 

First things first…

First, my teaching at the school consisted of prep work. I created a powerpoint in English then in Spanish about my chosen topic for the children. After creating the powerpoint and speaker notes, I went over them a few times with the team to make sure I felt comfortable with the pronunciation and was ready to speak it to the kids. Jointly, I worked to prepare an activity for the children, to create a more fun and interactive setting. Finally, I was ready.

I went in and was greeted by the staff and set up my presentation. Once I was up there, all of my nerves suddenly vanished and my head cleared, I was prepared and excited now. I thoroughly enjoyed doing my presentation and was able to answer and understand the kids’ questions, which was neat. I proceeded smoothly to the activity in which we helped the kids paint their own sharks and then play a game using the sharks they had made. 

An enjoyable experience

The children seemed to really enjoy the whole day which made it even more of a fulfilling experience. I also had the fantastic opportunity to help teach about coral conservation and fragmentation to an older group of teenagers at the event. This involved speaking to multiple different groups about the complexities of coral reefs and helping with hands-on activities on fragmenting coral to help replant the reefs. This not only granted further confidence but really helped to teach me about the work people do for conservation, the importance of it and the intricacies of the marine fauna we are trying to protect. On top of all of this, there are other activities all interns and supporters can participate in.

MCCR often organizes group activities that provide unforgettable experiences, such as a trip to the mangroves to see crocodiles. The fantastic team, other interns and general positive and friendly people around it all means super fun group trips to beautiful waterfalls, beaches or other fun activities such as football are a commonplace to why I always felt involved and like my time was being spent well, making the most, of the beautiful country of Costa Rica and Quepos. 

Want to get involved ?

With all of the projects we work hard on throughout the year, we are always looking for help. You can get involved with one of our internship or volunteer programs.

Apply Now

Global issue of Coral Bleaching

Global issue of Coral Bleaching

The Global issue of Coral Bleaching

Imagine this, you are on vacation and pay good money to scuba dive in the wonders of the sea. You are thrilled to see an abundance of the world below us, filled with happy ecosystems, baby sea turtles, huge sharks and incredible colors. To your surprise, the ocean lacks its beauty and majestic glow. The coral isn’t its vibrant, healthy self but instead decaying and dull. There are far less fish and aquatic plants than expected, and instead you find yourself surrounded in a never-ending vast blue, longing for the return of a lively reef.

Unpleased and disappointed, you question what happened and how you can help, thankfully the Marine Conservation Costa Rica (MCCR) is actively striving to educate and take action.

What is Coral Bleaching?

Due to global warming increasing the temperature of the sea, coral eject zooxanthellae, (the symbiotic algae that lives in most hard corals and provides the coral with most of its energy to build reefs). With the zooxanthellae gone, the coral’s beautiful colors fade and turn white. This process is called coral bleaching.

The good news is the loss of color does not mean the coral has died, it is still alive and can survive a bleaching but undergoes stress and is much more vulnerable. Coral can recover from bleaching if the ocean’s previous conditions return to normal, and zooxanthellae in reabsorbed. By adapting to a lifestyle focused on reducing global warming, we will help regrow those reefs and see them thrive again.

coral bleaching

How Global Warming Hurts Coral

Global warming has become a widespread issue across the world, and unfortunately the ocean has been the number one victim. The sea life thrives in a specific climate and temperature range, with little to no wiggle room. When the ocean begins to warm up, even just a couple of degrees, living organisms struggle to survive. Thus, leaving the coral lifeless with only the calcium carbonate skeleton remaining. Now what was once a lush and thriving community of organisms is a bare and lifeless area of sand and coral skeletons.

Pavona gigantea - Corals of Costa Rica

Why does Coral Matter?

Coral may look like a simple plant, however, it is actually a sessile animal that relies on the oceans floor and algae to thrive. A healthy reef provides an entire community for its residents to live, eat and be protected. It is home to millions of varied species like fish, algae, crab, clams, seahorses and turtles. Without it, essentials like food, shelter, and biodiversity would become scarce resulting in food-web changes and relocating or dying of needed species.

How are we Affected?

The health of coral is significant to the health of our earth and humans. Since coral reefs are the center for ecosystems in the ocean and supply the food chains, we are losing food too. For us, they are vital for feeding many coastal populations of people since they provide us with most of the seafood we eat.

Furthermore, coral reefs play a significant role in protecting our precious coastlines and beaches. During the time of storms or natural disasters like hurricanes, the reefs act as a barrier to protect land from flooding and erosion.

Coral reef research

Simultaneously, coral reefs do an excellent job of storing carbon dioxide, which aids in the regulation of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. As you can see, coral reefs hold many responsibilities to organisms of all levels.

Just as we rely on coral reefs, they are dependent on us! It is now our turn to take a closer look at how we as humans are treating our wonderful corals and helping rebuild their sustainability in the natural world.

Respect the coral reefs.

Written by Danielle Brittle

Content creator and Social Media intern

Content creator and Social Media intern

Get Involved

 

social media intern
outplanting corals

We need your help to spread our message of awareness

We have been super busy this year already with both the nurseries, and some exciting new projects coming soon. We are still small and growing fast and we need your help to keep this momentum going. We are looking for two interns. One to help us with content creation for our media channels, and one for managing the social media channels that we have. Both positions are for 3-6 months depending on the person, possibly longer. Our hope is that we can then find some enthusiastic eco warriors to help spread awareness and our message to our expanding network of supporters. And find some new ones in the process. Outlines for the two positions are found below. We look forward to hearing from you!

What do you get in return?

You get to work with us and help spread awareness for the plight of the oceans!

Not just that, obviously! We are offering either a full marine conservation internship in exchange or if you are a looking to become a professional diver we can discuss the ECO Divemaster option with you as well. We have options for housing and homestays available as well.

If you are not a diver then we can work with that as well. We can make that happen as it is important to us that you have a good understanding of what we do. In order to do that, you are better off underwater!

Social Media Intern

We are looking for an enthusiastic social media intern to join us. You will be responsible for creating social media campaigns and the day-to-day management of MCCRs social media social media posts and channels. You need a passion for social media and marine conservation.

The successful intern will be an excellent communicator, a versatile creative writer, and a team player. You will be able to manage our channels through scheduling software, analyze posts and campaigns, and interact with our network of enthusiastic eco warriors.

 

coral nursery costa rica

Requisites

We ask that you have experience in the management of social media channels and scheduling software. Also, that you understand branding and production of effective and engaging social media posts.

You can work closely with our content creator

Knowledge of Spanish is a bonus.

Scuba diving experience is desirable.

To apply

  • Please submit a current Resume (CV) with references
  • Please submit an example of how you would plan and manage a campaign on a new artifical reef project.

 

Note: Can be offered as part of a university degree work experience/Thesis project if desired. Please outline in your application.

 

Content Creator Intern

suAs Content Creator at Marine Conservation Costa Rica, you’ll be in charge of creating online content like blog posts, newsletters, social media posts both visual and written. This content will help us reach our eco warriors. It’s up to you to provide them with valuable information about our projects and more. 

You will need to be able to create both written and visual content so you will need to be able to take photos, videos around the dive center and on our projects.  Access to a Gopro is perfect as this can also be used underwater. If you do not have any experience underwater, we have Divemasters and instructors around who very often can provide underwater footage which you can then utilize.

We hope that you will be able to assist us with creating more education materials for our programs and projects.

 

coral nursery costa rica

Requisites

You have the ability to write for multiple channels 
You have excellent writing and editing skills.
You have a sense of branding and know how to keep a consistent tone of voice in your writing and media
You have experience working with a CMS like WordPress.
You can create basic visuals and videos
You know how to optimize your writing for SEO.
You have a passion for the underwater environment.

You can work closely with our social media intern.

Knowledge of Spanish is a bonus

Scuba diving experience is desireable

To apply

  • Please submit a current Resume (CV) with references
  • Please submit some examples of your writing and photo/video content

 

Note: Can be offered as part of a university degree work experience/Thesis project if desired. Please outline in your application.

 

Apply Now