Climate anxiety – What is it and what can you do about it?

Climate anxiety – What is it and what can you do about it?

Climate anxiety? What are your plans for the next six years? Graduate college, travel the world, get a puppy, buy a house, get married, build a garden, start a new job, have a child, or maybe two? Six years is such a long time! Time that can be spent creating beautiful moments. But what if you had to fit the rest of your life in the next six years—six years and 317 days to be exact. How short would six years feel then? Would you live your life differently? If you had the opportunity to add more time to these six years, would you make smarter, more ethical, and sustainable decisions? 

climate clock

Climate Clock

The climate clock hangs high in Berlin, and New York City, counting down “how long it will take, at current rates of emissions, to burn through our ‘carbon budget’ — the amount of CO2 that can still be released into the atmosphere while limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. This is our deadline, the time we have left to take decisive action to keep warming under the 1.5°C threshold.” (Climate Clock) 

While the clock does bring needed attention, is not always positive.The countdown may bring awareness to the climate crisis and encourage sustainable living, but does the oversaturation in the news increase a sense of impending doom? That no matter how much plastic you stop using, the meat you stop eating, or the numerous protests you attend, nothing will make enough significance to reverse this ticking time bomb. If you feel stress or grief around the current climate crisis, you are probably experiencing “climate anxiety,” “a fairly recent psychological disorder afflicting an increasing number of individuals who worry about the environmental crisis” (Psychology Today).

If you are someone who experiences climate anxiety and is feeling a little lost or scared, try not to worry. You are not alone. There is an entire community experiencing the same feelings. As someone who experiences climate anxiety myself, I would like to share some useful tips to help lessen your anxiety. 

Make adjustments

I’ve made adjustments to my daily living so I can leave a positive impact on my planet. If you have not already, start by lessening your plastic and meat intake, use your car less and public transport more, and switch off your lights and water as often as possible. 

“But I already do all of this, and it does not feel like enough.” 

While your individual acts are extremely important, I can understand those small changes might not feel overly impactful. Let me remind you that your small acts are making a huge difference, so take pride in that! Keep up the good work, and share your knowledge with those around you. Also remember, it is not the individual person that is having the greatest negative impact on our planet. It is the large-scale corporations that cause detrimental environmental damage. We need to continue holding them accountable. 

Fast fashion

fast fashion

You can start by limiting how much you shop from fast fashion companies. Fast fashion, “an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers”,is a massive polluter, creating cheap clothing, at the expense of underpaid workers. Clothes not meant to last to the next season end up in our landfills. Fast fashion produces excessive amounts of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere and pollutes our waters with dyes and chemicals. 

Support small, ethical businesses and most importantly shop second-hand whenever possible. 

Try buying groceries from local farmers and markets whenever possible. Corporate farms tear down large sections of forest to make room for livestock, among other harmful practices. I would also recommend shopping organic to avoid harmful pesticides. The use of these chemicals overflows to waterways and is harmful to fish. 

When these practices aren’t an option, look for companies that have green policies—companies that pledge to offset their carbon footprint, or create products that are environmentally friendly. 

Your voice is your greatest strength. Hold corporations accountable for their actions. We need to demand sustainable initiatives, and if companies refuse to upgrade, then we must take our business elsewhere. 

Be positive

It can be extremely anxiety-inducing to have no idea what our future is going to look like. Especially when countdowns like the Climate Clock can make us feel like we are running out of time. I want to encourage you to look at this situation as “glass half full”, we have six years. Six years to change our daily practices. To live a zero-waste lifestyle, to stop eating meat, to buy only from small, local, sustainable businesses, and to stop supporting large corporations. Six years to reverse the damages done to our planet. We still have the chance to encourage change and make a difference. We have the opportunity to be the change we want to see in this world. 

Written by Karley Feather – MCCR Media & Conservation Intern

How green is your packaging? – 6 common misconceptions busted

How green is your packaging? – 6 common misconceptions busted

With the world changing we have been forced to reevaluate our way of life. One of the biggest things that has been brought to the forefront is the impact our daily habits have on the health of our planet. Seeing such a sharp change once everyone was in lockdown has made it even more clear. If the earth and nature is given a chance it will fight back.

Over the next month we are going to have a look at how covid has put living a sustainable life in focus. We work everyday to live a sustainable life, but with different information being presented all of the time it is hard to sometimes keep a clear path. Starting on this topic we are looking at one of the most common things we deal with everyday, packaging, and we are addressing 6 common misconceptions about “green packaging”.

Plastic is the bad guy of packaging

plastic packaging

Ban single use plastics has been a common anthem of anyone aiming to live a more sustainable life. The big one of these is plastic bags. Interesting fact, they were originally invented as a reusable carrying source, not intended to be used once and thrown away. But did you know that single use plastics can be more sustainable depending on the material it is made from? Also, how it is used and where it ends up. It actually has a smaller carbon footprint than say a canvas bag . That would have to be used up to 300 times to have a comparable impact. Also, by packing something once, properly in plastic rather than using less effective means of packaging could result in the item being damaged to being sent back. This results in the supply chain extending and so the carbon emissions increasing.

glass packaging

Glass is a always more sustainable than plastic

This is not always true. Glass containers are heavier to transport and are not always recycled back into glass products even after they are collected. They may end up being used in roads amongst other things. For example, I have seen food products presented in glass packaging which can then be recycled so is touted as a more sustainable option. BUT only if the consumer decides to recycle it.

Biodegradable means compostable

As we have discovered over the years, there are different meanings to the word “degradable”. If you see something labeled as “bio-degradable’ Yes it will degrade but many times not without some serious industrial processes. Otherwise they could be in the environment for many years. A label called oxo-degradable is common to see on some plastics. It means that the use of chemicals is required to break them down. This in turn creates microplastics which as we all know are a huge problem in the marine and terrestrial environment and can end up in our food chain. So, next time you are looking at “degradable” bag for example, check what kind of degradable it is.

All plastic is made of the same thing

There is no one type of plastic and yes, all of it is a pollutant. The challenge is to reduce your use of plastic and change the types that we are using. There is a large focus right now on creating plant-based materials for the plastic so producing a more sustainable option. Longer term options are being looked at which include larger scale utilization of these methods. “An example is Tetra-Rex. This is a plant-based carton made from paperboard and plastic derived from sugar cane” said Erik Lindroth from Tetra Pak. If you research some of the companies that are using this type of plastic packaging, you can focus your buying on these options.

Food without packaging is always better

Before this delightful pandemic came our way, there was a very large push around the world to start introducing food stuffs with no packaging. However, this can also have its draw backs. By wrapping in plastic, the shelf life of a food product can be extended so reducing the food waste. Food spoilage and waste can have an even bigger footprint than the single use film. I am not saying that single use film is great, no. It is a pollutant, but it is extremely important as well to take into account the food wastage that may otherwise occur. Food packaging is just a small part of the whole footprint of the product.

All aluminum is bad

After plastic, aluminum is very much frowned upon. Almost 75% of all aluminum is still in circulation which goes along with the thought process that it is infinitely recyclable. The problem has always been though, that it is very energy intensive to recycle to creating a large carbon footprint. However, there is a focus now on low energy aluminum which is produced using clean energy processes. So making the carbon footprint less. This is a great example of a sustainable future and a super weapon in the fight against climate change according to a UK former climate and energy minister.

I know it is hard to take from this one clear message. Yes, plastic is bad, but it it not always the worse option and can be recycled, in the right way and we need to try and prevent it from reaching the oceans. The best we can do in general is juts to overall consume less and be more mindful or what we are buying and how. Everything we can do will have an affect on our planet and oceans. That is what we are trying to save.

Save the Reef with Eco-Friendly Clothing!

Save the Reef with Eco-Friendly Clothing!

Waterlust is an eco-conscious brand helping to fund various marine science research projects.

We Have Partnered with Waterlust – An Environmentally Conscious, Science-Driven Brand

We are excited to share the big news that we are now partnered with Waterlust. An environmentally conscious brand that is helping fund research while educating the world about environmental conservation! Having used Waterlust’s products for years we believe you’ll love them too. Waterlust creates beautiful accessories such as water bottles, headbands, and even face masks (how 2020!). They are best known for their environmentally friendly clothing. They make each item of clothing from recycled, post-consumer plastic bottles ensuring that they have minimal impact on the environment. How cool is that!

At Marine Conservation Costa Rica, we are extremely conscious of our environmental impact and we are careful to only promote products we truly believe in. This is why we are so excited about this partnership. Now when you purchase items from Waterlust, 25% of your total will come back to us at Marine Conservation Costa Rica to help us expand our coral nursery! All you will have to do is shop via our special referral address https://waterlust.com/MCCR. You enter their site and then go shop! Help save our coral reefs, and you’ll have some pretty awesome products. That’s a win-win if you ask me!

Why We Think You’ll Love Waterlust

Whale shark research one piece.

Waterlust’s main goal is to create beautiful clothing with the purpose of telling stories of science while being good for the environment. The dream to create sustainable science-driven clothing comes from a small family run business with backgrounds in marine science. Each piece is carefully made on a small, low impact scale. When someone wears their clothing, they want that person to be a walking and talking advocate for science and for what the garment represents. They call this approach Advocate Apparel, promising that each piece will be created with a purpose.

Support A Cause

Various men’s and women’s prints with their corresponding cause.

You’ll notice on their website that you are able to “shop by cause.” Each of their unique clothing prints advocates for the marine species, ecosystem, or natural phenomenon it represents. 10% of these profits from the sales go to it’s associated research or non-profit organization that is putting in the hard work to make a tangible difference. There are various options to choose from including whale shark research and tiger shark research. Also Atlantic spotted dolphin research and many more.

Their clothing sections appeal to both men and women. While browsing their clothing, you will be able to select the print that you want. This could be a beautiful electric blue of the abalone restoration project, or the bright red sockeye salmon research project. It is a sustainable method of shopping because you can choose what looks good. Also what feels good by giving back to the science-driven cause that you choose in the unique print.

If your favorite animal is a dolphin or a shark, or if you are a coral nerd like us, you will be able to showcase your dedication to the cause while at the gym, on a dive, at yoga, or simply running errands with friends! Their rash guards and bottoms offer sun protection (UPF 50+) made from lightweight, breathable, recycled fabric. Don’t forget – the coolest part is that each top and bottom recycle 17 post-consumer plastic bottles. All of the fabric is quick-drying for all your water activities (diving, surfing, swimming, etc.). Also comfy enough to wear all day long, even once you get out of the water!

Check out their causes here.

Their Environmental Impact

You can read all about Waterlust’s environmental impact on their website but we’ll tell you four reasons why you should feel good about purchasing their products.

The stages that Waterlust takes to ensure environmental responsibility.
  1. The Birth stage is where they carefully assess what they will need to manufacture the product while being conscious of their water use, carbon emissions, and agricultural land demands.
  2. The life stage represents how each product is produced to be long-lasting, the less it will have to be replaced significantly reduces environmental cost.
  3. Death is where they consider what will happen to the clothes when you are done with them by ensuring biodegradability and recyclability.
  4. Each order is wrapped in 100% recycled and biodegradable kraft paper – zero-waste packaging!

How Your Purchase Will Save The Reef

By partnering with Waterlust, Marine Conservation Costa Rica will receive 25% of the proceeds when you purchase an item with our special link: https://waterlust.com/MCCR

Coral Internships in Costa Rica
Cleaning at one of our coral nurseries that you will be helping to expand!

We have been working tirelessly and diligently to expand our growing coral nursery. Being a non-profit during a pandemic has proven to have its challenges, but it’s nothing we can’t work through! By choosing to support Waterlust, you will be supporting science research and you will also be helping fund the expansion of our coral restoration project.

10 Ways to conserve sharks (without leaving your couch)

10 Ways to conserve sharks (without leaving your couch)

2020 has been a very strange and emotional year for all of us, above the surface and below. While we have been stuck in lockdown, sharks have been falling victim to numerous dangers caused by humans. Sharks are under more threat than ever before, and I’m here to show you 10 simple ways that you can help conserve sharks without even leaving your couch – how COVID-19 friendly!

1. Sign Petitions

Signing petitions that demand protection of shark populations worldwide is the quickest thing that you can do to make a difference right now.

A petition being organized by Change.org needs all hands on deck to ban fishing on the high seas surrounding the Galapagos Islands, just off the coast of Ecuador. If you are not familiar with what is happening, there are over 200 fishing vessels operating at the edge of the protective zone. The Galapagos Islands are one of the largest biodiverse ecosystems in the world, being home to many species of shark. These vessels are practicing unsustainable fishing practices, resulting in the bycatch of thousands of sharks and completely decimating the shark populations in a protected area.
Click here to sign the petition.

For more petitions check out Support our Sharks, they take the time to gather any and all petitions surrounding shark conservation. I even found some concerning my home country, you may be surprised by what you find.

2. Get Involved with Conservation Groups

Coral fragments taking time to grow at one of our nurseries

There are many conservation organizations making a big impact daily, and you can get involved with just the click of a button.

Like with us! Marine Conservation Costa Rica runs numerous conservation programs that you can join once the travel bans are lifted. In the meantime, you can Adopt a Coral! Coral reefs are home to sharks, they use them to graze and hunt for food, keeping the ecosystem of the reef balanced. By adopting a coral, you are supporting our coral restoration project that is bringing life back to our reef. With your purchase, you will have the opportunity to name your little coral and receive a certificate with all of its information, even the GPS location!

PADI has been a long time partner with Project AWARE, a global movement committed to ocean protection. They make it super easy to donate to their initiatives, and they invest 25% of their donations into shark and ray conservation.

Other conservation groups that we know and love are Sea Shepherd, Fins Attached, and Sharkwater, so check ’em out.

3. Adopt a Shark

This is a fun and unique way to do your part in conserving sharks, plus it would make a great gift for someone special!

There are a few companies that allow you to “adopt a shark,” such as Oceana and Shark Trust. You give a small donation in exchange for an adoption pack and certificate telling you all about the shark that you have just helped sponsor. The majority of proceeds go toward shark research and conservation. I call that a win, win.

4. Reduce Your Seafood Consumption

Large scale commercial fishing practices negatively impact shark populations in multiple ways. Humans like to eat boney fish, and inconveniently so do sharks, so by fishing on a large scale we are depleting their primary source of food. Sustainable fishing is important because sharks often become victims of hooks or nets which are meant for other fish, but they become entangled while chasing an easy meal. By simply reducing your consumption of seafood, you can reduce the number of sharks killed each year.

5. Choose Sustainable Seafood

Unsafe fishing practices and bycatch pose the largest threat to our world’s sharks. Bycatch is when a fish or other marine species are accidentally caught while fishing for something else. This is most common with commercial long-line fishing. According to WWF, 3.3 million sharks are victims of bycatch every year, and that’s only in the Pacific Ocean! Do your research and choose to buy fish from properly managed and sustainably run fishermen. Buy small, and buy locally.

Pro Tip: If you are from the United States, The Monterey Bay Aquarium offers a great guide to sustainable seafood in every state in their Seafood Watch Consumer Guide, just select your state and numerous options will appear for your area!

6. Education Is Power

Learn as much as you possibly can about sharks, learn about their habitats, their behavior, different species, and then educate yourself on how human practices are putting them in danger. Investing in your own education is powerful, it builds knowledge, creates confidence, and opens countless doors of opportunity. The more educated you are about them, the more ways you can find to help Conserve sharks. Plus, you might just inspire someone to do the same.

7. Use Your Voice

Social media is not just a place for stories, status updates, and pictures. It is also a powerful tool that you can use as a platform for your voice. Start sharing photos, articles, and updates about sharks. Even if you catch the attention of one person, you have done your job. As Jacques-Yves Cousteau once said, “People protect what they love,” so show people that sharks are intelligent creatures worth protecting.

Spread the word – an ocean without sharks is more frightening than an ocean with sharks.

8. Vote Wisely

Support legislation that stops shark fishing, protects ecosystems, and ends unsustainable fishing practices. Before election day, make sure to research your local candidate’s values and promises. Use your right to elect officials who actively support ocean and marine life conservation.

9. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

coral research projects
A recent dive for debris where we found bottles, flip-flops, fishing lines, and food wrappers.

Sharks become entangled in plastic fishing gear and other plastic materials, often leading to irreversible damage or death. Also, sharks often confuse plastic for food, and so do the smaller fish who the sharks then eat, resulting in all levels of the food chain ingesting plastics.

So, what can you do? Reduce, Reuse, Recycle of course!

The most common forms of trash found on land and underwater clean-ups by us are bottle caps, straws, plastic cutlery, plastic bags, food wrappers, and bottles/cans.

1. Purchase reusable drink and food containers, beeswax wraps are a great alternative to cling wrap.
2. Buy a reusable bag such as one made from cotton or recycled materials.
3. Contact your local recycling depot and become familiar with what materials they can and cannot recycle.

10. Check Your Cosmetics

Yep, you read that right!

Chances are that you’ve used cosmetics or sunscreens containing shark products before, you just didn’t know it. The ingredient to look out for is “squalene,” which is shark liver oil. Squalene is most commonly used in anti-aging creams, hair treatments, lipsticks, sunscreen, and many others.

According to The Rob Stewart Sharkwater Foundation, about 50 different species of shark are fished for their liver oil, even species that are considered endangered such as the deep-sea shark, because their liver is 20% of their body weight.

Before you buy your next product, check to see that it has the “cruelty-free” stamp or that it is a vegan / plant-based product.

Make Big Waves For Change!

We know that getting out there and doing hands-on conservation work is hard at the moment with travel bans, restrictions, and lockdowns. Although, these 10 easy things are impacts that you can make right now, without leaving your bed or couch, to ensure a better future for our oceans and our sharks! Once restrictions ease, plan a beach cleanup with friends, go diving with sharks, or plan a volunteer holiday to learn more about our ocean’s diverse ecosystems! The sharks are counting on you.

Helping our local turtle population – Story of a family man with a  passion

Helping our local turtle population – Story of a family man with a passion

Turtles are one of the most iconic and majestic encounters that you can have underwater. Scuba diving and seeing one is always a thrill. But like many of our amazing creatures they are under threat. Some scientists estimate that sea turtle populations have decreased by 90% over the past 100 years. 90%!!! Think about that for a moment.

sea turtle costa rica

Turtles are under threat

There are many factors that have contributed to this . Humans, as ever being the major cause of most of them. They do face natural threats like predation, but, with things like long lining, marine debris, consumption of turtle eggs and turtle meat and marine pollution, the odds of their survival are ever smaller.

One of the factors that make it hard for nesting populations to recover is the fact that only 1 in 1000 to 10,000 of sea turtle hatchlings actually get to adult hood. All these threats combine to make life very hard for them. But, we as ever want to what we can to help.

Isla Damas Turtle nesting beach

Just 1 km from our town of Quepos is the beach of Damas. On this beach, every year Olive Ridley turtles, one of the seven species of sea turtles come up and nest. They visit between the months of June and November with the hatchlings emerging from October to December time. They are on an unprotected beach and subject to poaching from the nearby community. This makes it hard on the population that comes to nest.

Milo sea turtle saviour

But, they have some help. One man, Francisco “Milo” Duran Parra has taken it upon himself to do what he can. Helping the population that is coming and nesting there over the past few years and we want to help him. He lives about 3km up the beach in a very isolated area and most nights when he can he patrols the beach. Retrieving nests that he can to place them safely in the nursery that he has then constructed. He hopes to get there before another person, out to poach the nests does, but sometimes he is not lucky. With the currently situation, we fear that more people will be out looking for the eggs to sell and eat as times are more difficult.

Once they begin to hatch, he releases them again, back into the ocean to make it on their own. By doing this, he is increasing their chances, even a small amount, which makes all the difference.

He has help from his family and a couple of neighbors, who, when able to, will assist him with his mission but this is not a regular occurrence. When the hatchlings are released many of the local community will go and see this amazing event but he never asks for anything. He loves the turtles and wants to help in whatever way he can.

How can we help?

Here at Marine Conservation Costa Rica, we love all aspects of our ocean world and want to help. This project is on our doorstep and we want to help Milo with his mission. Right now, the new season is fast approaching, he has already begun preparing and repairing the nursery for the nests as the turtles come up. But it needs help. The nests need protection from natural predators, like crabs and birds, and from other predators like curious dogs and raccoons. How do we do that? By building the nursery down at least 80cm and reinforcing it with fencing. This takes materials and man power.

sea turtle nursery Damas island

We have worked out, that to get the nursery built, that it is reinforced and well protected it will take approximately $500. This includes the materials and the labour to dig the existing perimeter down deeper to protect it from scavenging crabs. We need your help with this. We are asking for donations that we can pass to Milo and his family to help them this upcoming season. Looking to the future we will want to expand our help with this project, including volunteering with his patrols, but right now, this is the most urgent need for the project before the larger nesting population arrives.

sea turtle nursery quepos

This is just one of the small things that we can do to help Milo with his amazing mission of protecting the sea turtles and we hope it will be the start of something more that we will be able to do in the future.

If you can donate any amount to the Damas sea turtle project, please click below, enter your details, and we will see that your generosity goes to the right place.

Let’s help Milo with the turtles. Thank you!

Spotlight on Coral – Threats to Coral

Spotlight on Coral – Threats to Coral

Threats to Coral Reefs

If we are to be able to protect coral reef systems it is very important to know what kind of threats corals are dealing with right now!
We can divide these threats in three groups: abiotic threats, biological threats and anthropogenic threats. So let’s take a look…

Abiotic threats to Coral Reefs

Abiotic threats are caused by physical or chemical factors that  affect living organisms and the functioning of an ecosystem. For instance in reef systems temperature, light, pH and salinity but also things like chemical components in soil and water.
A current and widely known result of changes in physical factors is coral bleaching. Coral bleaching happens when corals lose their vibrant colors and turn white.

But there’s a lot more to it than that. Coral are bright and colorful because of microscopic algae called zooxanthellae. The zooxanthellae live within the coral in a mutually beneficial relationship, each helping the other survive. But when the ocean environment changes, particularly to an increase in temperature, the coral is put under stress and expels the algae. When the algae is expelled, the coral’s colors fade until it looks like it’s been bleached. If the temperature stays high, the coral won’t let the algae back, and the coral will die. The leading cause of coral bleaching is climate change. A warming planet means a warming ocean, and a small change in water temperature—as little as 2 degrees Fahrenheit—can cause coral to drive out algae. Coral may bleach for other reasons, like extremely low tides, pollution, too much sunlight, change in pH. 

Other abiotic threats can be the wind, weather and the waves that cause the physical damage of coral reefs. Turbidity can cause a lack of sunlight for the corals, this makes the corals unable to perform photosynthesis. Other things that may cause stress to the corals are a change in sediment levels, pressure, salinity, current, ocean depth and nutrients.

bleached coral
bleached coral costa rica

Biotic threats to Coral Reefs

Biotic threats are caused by the living components of an ecosystem, for instance the fishes, invertebrates and competing corals. They are mostly natural interactions between corals, parasites, predators, or coral disease. They can also be non natural threats, like invasive parasites, predators and coral diseases that have been introduced to a coral ecosystem.

Anthropogenic threats to Coral Reefs

Anthropogenic threats are threats caused by humans. Humans may also be indirectly responsible for many biotic and abiotic threats; like ocean warming and the introduction of non-native species in many ecosystems all round the globe.
Most coral reefs occur in shallow water near shore. As a result, they are particularly vulnerable to the effects of human activities. This is both through direct exploitation of reef resources, and through indirect impacts from adjacent human activities on land and in the coastal zone. Many of the human activities that degrade coral reefs are inextricably woven into the social, cultural, and economic fabric of regional coastal communities. 

Pollution, overfishing, destructive fishing practices such as using dynamite or cyanide, collecting live corals for the aquarium market, mining coral for building materials, and a warming climate are some of the many ways that people damage reefs all around the world every day. 

One of the most significant threats to reefs is pollution. Land-based runoff and pollutant discharges can result from dredging, coastal development, agricultural and deforestation activities, and sewage treatment plant operations. This runoff may contain sediments, nutrients, chemicals, insecticides, oil, and debris.

When some pollutants enter the water, nutrient levels can increase, promoting the rapid growth of algae and other organisms that can smother corals.

Coral reefs also are affected by leaking fuels, anti-fouling paints and coatings, and other chemicals that enter the water. Petroleum spills do not always appear to affect corals directly because the oil usually stays near the surface of the water, and much of it evaporates into the atmosphere within days. However, if an oil spill occurs while corals are spawning, the eggs and sperm can be damaged as they float near the surface before they fertilize and settle. So, in addition to compromising water quality, oil pollution can disrupt the reproductive success of corals, making them vulnerable to other types of disturbances.

Ocean acidification is mainly caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere dissolving into the ocean. This leads to a lowering of the water’s pH, making the ocean more acidic. This in turn causes the hard limestone skeletons of coral to become weaker and in some areas the reef is crumbling away.

Many factors contribute to rising carbon dioxide levels. Currently, the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas for human industry is one of the major causes.

diseased coral

In many areas, coral reefs are destroyed when coral heads and brightly-colored reef fishes are collected. They are sold for the aquarium and jewelry trade. Careless or untrained divers can trample fragile corals, and many fishing techniques can be destructive. In blast fishing, dynamite or other heavy explosives are detonated to startle fish out of hiding places.

This practice indiscriminately kills other species and can demolish or stress corals so much that they expel their zooxanthellae. As a result, large sections of reefs can be destroyed. Cyanide fishing involves spraying or dumping cyanide onto reefs to stun and capture live fish. This can kill coral polyps and degrades the reef habitat. More than 40 countries are affected by blast fishing, and more than 15 countries have reported cyanide fishing activities.

Other damaging fishing techniques include deep water trawling. This involves dragging a fishing net along the sea bottom. There is also muro-ami netting, in which reefs are pounded with weighted bags to startle fish out of crevices. Often, fishing nets left as debris can be problematic in areas of wave disturbance. In shallow water, live corals become entangled in these nets and are torn away from their bases. In addition anchors dropped from fishing vessels onto reefs can break and destroy coral colonies.


What can we do to stop threats to coral reefs?


Without a doubt, at this time, humans are causing the most threats to coral reef systems. Coral have thrived on earth for it is thought to be over 500 million years. Humans have been around for the last 200,000 years. With industrialization and the greed in recent decades, there is a real possibility that we could wipe them out in the next 50 years.
Coral restoration projects can only do so much. We all need to make positive changes in our lifestyles to help coral reefs. If we can slow climate change, reduce C02 emissions, and choose to spend money on sustainably produced products, we might be able to make a difference!

So next time you turn off a light or walk to work, remember you are helping coral reefs!

If you would like to support our project, we accept donations through PayPal at paypal.me/Marinecostarica 

sebastiaan marine conservation intern

Sebastiaan Moesbergen joins us from the Netherlands. He is currently studying applied Biology at University and has been enrolled in our internship program since the beginning of March. As part of his internship he is assisting us with research and investigation and has been spearheading our spotlight on coral articles. Thank you Sebastian!