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The Lewis Pugh Foundation is a registered charity in England & Wales.
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Coral reefs are in crisis. An estimated 14% of the planet's coral has been lost over the last ten years due to heat, cyclones, floods, invasive species and disease outbreaks. Future predictions are even more dire: if we don't keep temperature increases below 1.5 degrees, we lose 70% of our coral; at 2 degrees, 99% will be gone. Every degree matters, which is why these Coral Champions are working hard to protect, promote, record, celebrate and propagate one of the world's most diverse ecosystems. Join us in saluting them and the wonderful work they do!
You may have attended a few ribbon cutting opening ceremonies in your life, but they probably didn't take place underwater. Yet when Raquel Peixoto inaugurated her first coral probiotic village, that's exactly what they did. Raquel is a Brazilian scientist working at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia whose pioneering work has paved the way for new approaches to explore mechanisms of marine microbiology and symbiotic interactions, and for a new area of research on coral probiotics. "My goals are to investigate and understand key symbiotic mechanisms promoting the host's resistance and resilience against different impacts, as part of my projects on coral reef protection, restoration and rehabilitation," she says. Check out some of the project she and her team are doing in the Red Sea here, and more about the Coral Probiotics Village here.
As Director of Coral Reef Conservation at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Dr Emily Darling’s research involves identifying ‘cool spots’ in the oceans for resilient corals, in order to explore where and how coral reefs can survive climate change. "I am passionate about the importance of connecting hope for coral reefs to the people who depend on and manage these unique ocean resources," she says. Emily has worked alongside Kenyan fishers to understand coral reef dynamics, with fisherwomen on food security within marine protected areas, with social scientists to see how women benefit from conservation efforts, and with software engineers on technology to map threats to coral reefs. She's particularly passionate about MERMAID, "the first coral reef data platform designed for coral reef scientists, by coral reef scientists". Partnering with the Allen Coral Atlas and Reef Cloud, MERMAID is changing how technology can measure progress to saving coral reefs. Follow Emily on Twitter @emilysdarling and read more at her website.
Andrea Rivera-Sosa was born in Honduras, and so was her love of coral reefs. She got up close and personal with reefs in Hawaii, French Polynesia and in the Caribbean, studying environmental-marine science and coral reef ecology. Her recent research has focused on coral bleaching in the Mesoamerican Reef and at global level alongside Coral Reef Alliance, where she is Project and Outreach Manager, and with the Allen Coral Atlas. Andrea is also an activist and entrepreneur: she co-founded Conceptos Arkipelago in Bacalar, in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, innovating ways that communities can strengthen local capacity in alternative livelihoods with sustainable tourism and recycling programs. More on Instagram @allencoralatlas and @coral_org.
Chien Le's mission is to reverse the damages human beings have caused and protect the wonders of our oceans. He founded SASA Marine Animals Rescue Centre, a Vietnam-based NGO working to rescue stranded marine animals and revive damaged coral reefs. In the last two years alone, he and his team helped plant 80,000 branches of coral to restore 39,000 square meters of reef in Son Tra Peninsula, Da Nang. In doing so they developed a method that helps cover the reef and aid coral colonies to form many times faster than traditional methods. Chien's team of volunteer divers meet weekly to remove ghost net and plastic trash from the reef. Find out more on their Facebook page.
"We are locked into immense system change that affects everyone globally – and has been profoundly unjust to most around the world, let alone bad for nature," says David Obura. The Kenyan coral scientist wants people to understand how profoundly they must choose other, better pathways of change, and quickly. When it comes to coral reefs, he asks, "How can we help them transition into the best possible version of their former selves?" David is a Founding Director of CORDIO East Africa, a knowledge organization supporting sustainability of coral reef and marine systems in the Western Indian Ocean. His research explores sustainability science using coral reefs as a model, bridging "the boundary between science and action". David was awarded Kenya’s national honour, Moran of the Burning Spear in 2021, and the Coral Reef Conservation Award of the International Coral Reef Society in 2022. Follow David on Twitter.
His website describes him as a coral reef researcher and oceanographer', but Dr Gonzalo Pérez-Rosales's deep dive (literally) into coral reefs encompasses much more than that. He is a quantitative coral reef ecologist, oceanographer and TEK diver interested in the depth gradients of marine ecosystems. His research aims to link ecological patterns with oceanographic processes. Five years ago, a stint with the Chasing Coral documentary film-making team convinced Gonzalo to dedicate his career to the world of Coral Reefs Research and Communication. He recently completed a PhD at the CRIOBE lab with his work, part of the DEEPHOPE project working with Under The Pole, diving deep on the reef slopes in French Polynesia. He plans to delve even deeper into his topic with a PostDoc at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution with the Super Reefs team led by another coral champion, Anne Cohen.
If you're looking for your own deep dive into coral stats, the Status of Coral Reefs of the World report by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) is a good place to start. It is produced by the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), a global partnership between nations and organisations to preserve coral reefs and related ecosystems around the world. Founded in 1994 by eight governments (Australia, France, Japan, Jamaica, the Philippines, Sweden, the UK, and the USA), today ICRI counts 95 members, including 45 countries that are custodians of 75% of the world’s coral reefs. Its GCRMN aims to provide the best available scientific information on the status and trends of coral reef ecosystems for their conservation and management. The latest edition of its report compiles data contributed by more than 300 members of the network, spans more than 40 years (from 1978 to 2019) and includes almost 2 million observations from more than 12,000 sites in 73 reef-bearing countries around the world. Follow on Twitter for more.
Mariana is the co-founder of Blue Indigo Foundation, a Colombian NGO that focuses on the recovery of coastal and marine ecosystems.She grew up close to the ocean, which nurtured her special interest in coral reefs, and started working with coral reef conservation and restoration soon after graduating. Mariana specialises in rearing and planting out coral colonies with in-situ techniques. Through her foundation she works with community engagement and education strategies for the effective management of this vital ecosystem. Follower their work on Instagram.
“We fight for baby corals because they have very short arms.” This is the playful start of Kristen Marhaver’s website, where she details the work she and her collaborators do at the CARMABI research station on the Caribbean island of Curacao. Most of it involves baby corals – Kristen is a world-renowned expert in coral breeding; she has invented new methods for baby coral propagation and coral gene banking to help scientists and reef restoration teams around the world regrow coral reefs and rebuild coral genetic diversity. In 2017 she focussed on pineapple coral (Dichocoenia stokesii), which was being destroyed by Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease. “Fast forward five years, we now have dozens of spawning observations in Curacao, folks around the Caribbean are monitoring their spawning, we can visually ID colonies before they spawn, and we have three-and four-year-old baby pineapple corals growing in our lab,” Kristen says. “It’s so rewarding to decode the reproductive behaviour of a species like this because it means teams around the Caribbean can now take direct action in their own reefs to help recover and protect this species.” Follow Kristen on Twitter.
Michael Sweet is Professor in Molecular Ecology and Head of the Aquatic Research Facility at the University of Derby, UK, where he helped pioneer the use of probiotics in coral reef restoration. His team was also the first in the world to spawn corals ex situ, opening the way for reef restorers to spawn corals in their own back yard. The Coral Spawning Lab, which Michael launched with two friends, now manufactures and distributes state-of-the-art coral spawning units on a global scale and hopes to foster a circular economy, where restoration ultimately pays for itself. He credits his amazing team. “We tackle the issue of climate change, pollution, over exploitation head on – we educate, we work on a political level, we conduct blue sky research and we do all this because our planet needs us to do it,” he says. “Everyone needs to be a champion, everyone needs to stand up and do their bit, however small you think it is, it will make a difference.” Follow him on Google Scholar and on Twitter.
Growing up in Brazil, Luiz Rocha kept fish in tanks. These days he has a Ph.D and he is the one behind scuba glass, as he explores little-known deep coral reefs (between 200 and 500 feet deep) throughout the tropics. Luiz is Curator of Ichthyology and co-Director of the Hope For Reefs Initiative at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Because the deep ‘twilight zone’ ecosystem is so unexplored, it is largely unprotected; Luiz aims to change that. He focuses on describing the uniqueness of the fauna from those depths, advocating for the inclusion of deep reefs into existing Marine Protected Areas, and the creation of new conservation areas dedicated to those reefs. He recently won a Rolex Award for Enterprises for his research. View the website, Twitter and Instagram for more.
“When you train a woman, you train a society,” said Evangelista Apelis, co-director of the Sea Women of Melanesia programme based in Papua New Guinea. “We’re trying to get women on board, so they can then go back and make an impact in their own families and their society.” These indigenous women-doing-it-for-themselves are from Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, now empowered with the training, skills, equipment, and resources they need to help manage marine protected areas and their own coral reefs. There are over 40 Sea Women at work in the ‘Coral Triangle’ between the Great Barrier Reef and the island archipelagos of Melanesia and South East Asia. The Sea Women initiative is run by the Coral Sea Foundation, and was recently named one of UNEP’s 2021 Champions of the Earth – watch them in action.
Professor Ameer Abdulla-Eweida strives to work in areas that have been globally ignored, forgotten, or forsaken despite their unique biodiversity and social values. A Marine Conservation Scientist and National Geographic Explorer, Ameer is currently working on assessing the unique coral reef ecosystems of the Red Sea and developing solutions for their conservation. He has 20-years experience in marine science and conservation in the Red Sea, so he’s perfectly placed to advise on enhancing the socio-ecological resilience of Red Sea coral reef systems. Ameer has also worked in the Mediterranean Sea, Indian Ocean, Arabian Gulf, Great Barrier Reef, and the Gulf of Mexico, and is deputy VC Chair for West Asia of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas. His work consistently aims to harness multi-disciplinary science for conservation planning and ecosystem-based management. Catch up with him on Linkedin.
Reefs are the foundation of life in the Maldives. As a marine biologist in the island nation, and co-founder of Maldives Coral Institute (MCI), Aya has a particular interest in coral resilience, and coral-friendly development, as she aims to address the twin threats to coral of global warming and unsustainable development on her home islands. She is currently working with the Fulhadhoo island community on a project to restore a highly diverse and resilient reef in Baa Atoll. The original reef was impacted during dredging and harbour development, but the new reef survived the most recent countrywide bleaching event and continues to expand each year. It is seeded with ‘corals of opportunity’ – a charming name for fragments of coral that break off from a parent colony from wave action, natural threats or human activities – which are replanted in hexagonal steel structures called ‘Reef Stars’, anchored together across dead coral rubble in a web-like structure. Find out more about the project and follow the Institute on Instagram and Twitter. You can also follow Aya on Instagram and Twitter for more.
As Distinguished Professor of Biology at City University of New York, David Gruber has identified over 200 new species of marine creatures that possess biofluorescence (effectively the absorption of blue ocean light and its transformation into green, orange and red wavelengths) including corals, sharks and sea turtles. Some of the molecules he’s identified related to this biofluorescence are now being used in life-saving cancer research applications. As a technical scuba diver, David and his team studied mesophotic corals that have shown seasonal bleaching patterns of deep corals. They found a novel technique of studying coral bleaching events for the past several thousand years using boron isotopes. His team’s most recent study details the traits that some corals possess that has allowed them to survive previous mass extinction events. Last but not least, they are also decoding sperm whale sounds with state-of-the-art artificial intelligence and robotics. For more, go to his website, Project CETI, Linkedin, Instagram and Twitter.
Growing up on South Africa's Wild Coast, the seaside was Anne Cohen's playground. Growing up under apartheid, she was also acutely aware of how the disenfranchised majority had no access to the seaside, or to an education. Now a coral reef scientist at one of the world’s most prestigious oceanographic institutions (watch her work at the Cohen Lab), with a focus on conserving Super Reefs, Anne’s determination to democratize access to scientific information led to the development of Digital Reefs, an interactive, immersive online platform that leverages powerful 21st-century Digital Twin and gaming-engine technologies, to bring coral reef data and decision-making tools to millions of stakeholders all over the world, at their desktops, laptops and cell phones, via a universal visual language. Watch Anne talk about Digital Reefs here.
Terry Hughes has pioneered studies of coral demography and reef resilience in the Caribbean; documented global patterns of coral bleaching and the impacts of bleaching episodes on the Great Barrier Reef; and examined the interface between biology and the social sciences to evaluate of the linkages between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the welfare of human societies. Is it any wonder they call him the ‘Reef Sentinel’? Terry’s scientific publications have been cited more than 80,000 times, and he is widely acknowledged as a global leader in integrated social-ecological science. Keep up with the cutting edge of coral science by following him on Twitter.
Dr James Guest has spent the last 20 years obsessed with coral sexual reproduction. He’s developed ways to propagate corals from larvae to restore degraded reefs, and last year published the largest open-source database on coral spawning timing in the Indo-Pacific as a tool to improve understanding of the drivers of coral spawning. His research also focuses on selective breeding for heat tolerance in corals (as a way of boosting resilience of some reefs to climate change). As a coral reef ecologist, he currently leads the Coralassist Lab at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom. For the last five years, his team have been working closely with the Palau International Coral Reef Center to test ways to identify and selectively breed more heat-tolerant corals. If these methods show promise, James hopes that they can be incorporated into ongoing reef restoration programs to not only restore degraded reefs, but actually increase their chance of persisting in the face of climate change. Follow the Coralassist Lab and James on Twitter.
Can learning about the coral crisis be fun? Coral reef ecologist Edmund Lau believed it could be, with the gamification of real-life coral reef conservation challenges. He developed Reef Stakes®, an educational role-playing card game on the marine environment, with three partners, Hui Ling, Quek and Serena. Reef Stakes® players collaborate and resolve conflicts to determine the future of a coral reef ecosystem, while meeting some of Malaysia’s most iconic marine species and grappling with coral such as destructive fishing, pollution and coastal development. Reef Stakes® has won numerous awards and been played in more than 10 countries including Germany, Cambodia and Taiwan. It also birthed Reef Spawn: a capacity-building program to develop champions of the marine environment among Malaysian youth. Find out more on the website and Facebook, and follow Edmund on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter too.
The Allen Coral Atlas is a game-changing coral conservation tool powered by Arizona State University and developed in partnership with coral reef scientists, universities, NGOs, and private entities. The Allen Coral Atlas was developed through a unique collaboration of international experts who harnessed satellite imagery, machine learning and big data processing to create the world’s first high-resolution global maps and monitoring products for coral reefs. Now for the first time, the global coral conservation community has consistent, comparable, up-to-date access to global coral data that can be used to protect these critical resources before they are gone forever. Follow their story on Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and Facebook.
“Any conservation intervention or management plan needs to be community-driven and culturally grounded to be successful,” says Shreya Yadav, a postdoctoral researcher at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology. Shreya’s work around the world – from India’s Lakshadweep islands, to the Maldives and currently Hawaii – has taught her how crucial community is to coral. She stresses the importance of “integrating human dimensions into our understanding of coral reef resilience.” Her dissertation work in the Maldives (funded by a National Geographic Society Early Career grant) teased apart some of the historical, social, and ecological dimensions of coral reef resilience, integrating methods in marine social science and historical ecology with cutting-edge tools in coral reef ecology like structure-from-motion photogrammetry. Read more at her blog and follow her on Instagram and Twitter.
HEPCA is an NGO specialising in marine and and land conservation in the Egyptian Red Sea. It grew from a few concerned individuals into a dynamic network of scientists, professional divers, industry experts and community members, all pro-active about protecting the resources of the Red Sea. Their projects included introducing the world’s largest boat-mooring systems to avoid physical damaged caused by anchors, which is one of the biggest threats to fragile coral reefs. Currently they are calling for the Great Fringing Reef of the Egyptian Red Sea to be declared a multiple-use protected area. There is clear scientific evidence that the Great Fringing Reef, which is characterised with high resilience and tolerance to climate change, could be the last refuge for coral reefs worldwide. HEPCA has submitted a project proposal to establish new artificial coral reef sites, using outdated military equipment, in Egyptian waters. The project’s first aim is to reduce the pressure on the natural coral reefs around Hurghada, where the number of dives at some sites has reached more than 200,000 annually (the recommended carrying capacity is 5,000 - 22,000 dives in a single dive spot). For more go to the website and follow on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin and Twitter.
Aude Bourgine has been creating corals since 2014. This French sculptor assembles textiles and recycled materials, meticulously reworking them to represent the intricate diversity of these underwater animals. She then ‘protects’ these ‘endangered specimens’ under glass globes, like species in cabinets of curiosities, to represent their vulnerability in the face of many human excesses. She has also fashioned a metres-high textile coral reef installation, developed over time and through several residencies and exhibitions. Aude shares her creative time with children, the elderly and others who wish to join her in the defence of ecosystems and biodiversity through her residencies. Visit her website and follow her on Instagram for more.
As a child, Phanor determined to leave a legacy, not just make a living. Now he is working with multidisciplinary teams helping increase the resilience of coral reefs with reef users for reef users. Phanor is Program Manager for the Coral Restoration Foundation, protecting and out-planting critically endangered coral species to recover the live coral cover in the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary. In his home country Colombia, he also co-founded Corales de Paz, a conservation NGO that applies citizen science to coral reef monitoring and restoration. Colombia's most comprehensive effort to accelerate the recovery of coral reefs includes capacity-building for large-scale coral gardening, habitat restoration, impact control improvements, and community enhancement. Phanor also pioneered the digitalization of Colombia ́s coral reef monitoring surveys with structure-from-motion techniques and tools to improve image capture. Mission accomplished? We get the feeling that Phanor is far from finished!
Climate change is accelerating impacts on coral reefs faster than scientists can monitor them. ReefCloud is a new digital tool developed by Dr Emma Kennedy and her Australia-based team with collaborators in Fiji and Palau. It harnesses cutting-edge AI and digital tech to transform photos taken by snorkelers and divers into vital data about reef health, which is then shared to communicate where and how reefs are changing. “We can use this to estimate reef composition 700 times faster,” Emma says in this video, “meaning we can share information on reef health in days rather than months or years.” As a coral reef ecologist based at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Emma’s mission is to combine her expertise in coral monitoring with her passion for storytelling and photography to unite people around action on climate change.
As Programme Manager for Reef Check Malaysia, marine scientist Alvin Chelliah and his team monitor the health of over 200 reefs around the country, sharing info with international reef monitoring networks to make informed decisions about protecting precious coral reefs. He makes sure stake holders are involved in management from the ground up, and provides training and mentorship for local communities, businesses, and tourism operators to ensure coral reefs are managed sustainably. Find him on Facebook. Instagram, Linkedin and Twitter.
Everything Brazilian artist Beatriz Chachamovits makes has to do with the decline of the coral reef ecosystems. She turns coral bleaching, ocean acidification and plastic pollution into works of delicate beauty that are visceral reminders of how human behaviour harms our environment. “Like the reef itself,” she says, “my work uses a number of underlying structures – interdependence, diversity and scale – to organise collective empathy.” One interactive installation, an unfired clay model of a bleached ocean floor, gets trampled during viewing. “My aim is that once people are back in the natural world, they’ll be more cognisant of how their behaviour might be harmful to the environment and inspire action to care for the oceans and coral reefs, and consequently, the whole planet.” Wander (and wonder) at her website.
Professor David Suggett is a coral biologist at University of Technology Sydney, who has pioneered new technologies to understand how changing reef environments and climates shape coral health. He develops non-invasive optical and chemical tools that unlock corals’ complex metabolism, applying these to reef systems across the world to resolve how, when and where corals bleach. He also leads the Coral Nurture Program, a world-first partnership between research and tourism pioneering a new approach to reef stewardship by local communities. Since being established in 2018 on the Great Barrier Reef, the programme has installed over 100 coral nurseries and re-planted over 75,000 corals to boost natural recovery rates. Watch him at work here.
By any means available - that’s the mission of the Caribbean Coral Restoration Center. From its base in Panama, this “cultivator and guardian of flourishing ocean eco-systems” assists the recovery of existing natural coral reefs in the Bocas del Toro archipelago by supplying healthy, reef-growing corals for out-planting them into depleted reef areas. Check out their YouTube channel and really feel their love for “their family” of coral creatures. Besides building a legacy of recovering coral reefs and fish habitats around the Caribbean, CCRC projects have brought sustained economic empowerment and improved health to local Ngäbe communities. For more go to the Website, Facebook and Instagram.
After witnessing a life-changing coral-spawning event in the Bahamas in 2015, Nicaraguan-Spanish marine scientist and conservationist Isabel Nuñez Lendo dedicated herself to coral. Besides being a National Geographic Explorer, Isobel is an IUCN Coral Specialist for the Red List of Threatened Indo-Pacific Coral Species. She specialises in cutting-edge techniques for the conservation and restoration of coral reefs, such as applying underwater photogrammetry as a tool to estimate carbonate budgets of natural, degraded, and restored coral reefs in Australia. See more on the Constructive Visions Book Project, the University of Technology Sydney, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Former journalist Pariama found her passion for corals 22 years ago and has been restoring damaged coral reefs around Bali and other islands in Indonesia ever since. Pariama inspires and trains hundreds of divers and thousands of people from local communities from all over Indonesia to care for and restore their local coral reefs. Working with national and international institutions as well as corporate and private sponsors, Pariama has led the restoration of an estimated two hectares of coral reef and counting! In addition, she is involved in developing the Indonesia Coral Reef Garden project that aims to restore 74ha around Bali. Find out more on Facebook.
How can understanding natural and human drivers promote sustainable use of marine resources and increase their resilience? These are the questions that preoccupy Peter Musembi, a marine scientist working with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Kenya Marine Program. Peter currently works with a trans-boundary project Miamba Yetu (Our Reefs) Program under the Global Fund for Coral Reefs that aims at supporting sustainable interventions that save coral reefs and coastal people’s livelihoods in Kenya and Tanzania, where he assesses the impacts of sustainable interventions on coral reefs and coastal communities. Follow Peter and track his projects here.
Courtney combines science and art, using a background in marine conservation science to inform large-scale sculptures as vibrant as any reef. It is essential that her medium is ceramic, she says, “as calcium carbonate happens to be both a glaze ingredient and the compound precipitated by corals to sculpt their stony structures.” Her enormous and intricate ceramic sculptural works are inspired by the beauty and fragility of marine life in response to human-caused threats. “Not only does the chemical makeup of my work parallel that of a natural reef, but porcelain tentacles and the bodies of living corals share a sense of fragility that compels observers to look but not touch.” Courtney lives and works in Los Angeles but you can jump in from wherever you are and see her work here.
Emma looks for coral in unusual places – like mangrove lagoons, typically considered hostile for coral growth. By understanding how corals have adapted to survive there she hopes to improve active reef management in other places - in particular the Great Barrier Reef. “I can’t bear the thought that I would have to tell my children that our generation knew that it was dying and didn’t do anything to help it,” she says in this video of her at work. Emma leads the biogeochemistry group at the University of Technology Sydney, is Deputy team leader for the Future Reefs Team, and co-founder of the Coral Nurture Program (CNP). She is also passionate about championing the inclusion and retention of women and girls in STEM. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin.
A new deadly coral disease, known as stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD), is decimating the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the world’s second largest barrier reef. It’s just one of the threats that preoccupy Mexican coral conservation scientist Dr Lorenzo Alvarez-Filip. He leads the Biodiversity and Reef Conservation laboratory (Barco Lab), whose research has been elemental in describing the long-term changes to Caribbean coral reefs, the negative effects of unsustainable coastal development, and how impaired coral communities, which are dominated by stress-resistant but small and low-relief species, will change ecological dynamics and the way reefs function. In 2017 Lorenzo received the World Reef Award from the ‘International Coral Reefs Society’ in recognition of his achievements in the preservation of reef ecosystems. He has also served as Secretary and President of the Mexican Society of Coral Reefs. See more on Twitter and Facebook.
People’s Network for the Integrity of Coastal Habitats and Ecosystems (or People’s NICHE) is a Philippines-based alliance of local organizations committed to protecting coral and other coastal ecosystems in one of the world’s most biodiverse countries. Since 2012 People’s NICHE has campaigned to protect these ecosystems from destructive land reclamation projects, particularly around the Manila Bay area, bringing together civil society and grassroots groups to put forward an alternative vision of development that puts people and planet first. Landmark campaigns include ongoing opposition to the Bulacan Aerocity reclamation project, which is disrupting coral and mangrove ecosystems across Manila Bay. Alliance member organisations also campaign for the protection of corals and coastal areas in other parts of the country that are impacted by reclamation and other destructive projects.
“The ability of a diverse array of coral species to form symbioses with algae allowing them to function like plants, harnessing the sun for energy, and then building vast ecosystems which support some of the highest biodiversity on the planet is quite incredible,” says Tracy Ainsworth, Scientia Professor at the University of South Wales. She loves that these organisms are found from the tropics to the darkest ocean, far below the penetration of light, which gives insight into their importance, diversity and environmental reach. Tracy’s most recent research with her UNSW Sydney team focuses on understanding some of Australia’s most understudied corals and remote coral reefs. In her down time she writes 'science-themed poetry' and children's stories about the marine environment. Listen to her DeepBlueOnMyDoorstep Podcast or follow her on Twitter.
Portuguese artist Vanessa Barragão addresses the high degree of ocean pollution brought on by the textile industry – and in particular its effects on coral reef ecosystems – in her fabulous fabric creations. Stressing the need for conscious production methods, Vanessa up-cycles materials from the ‘deadstock’ (excess fabric) from textile factories in northern Portugal to make environmentally friendly, nature-themed art. She revives ancestral handcrafting techniques like latch hooking, hand-tufting, felting and crocheting to send a very modern – and urgent – message. View some of the spectacular results on her website, Facebook and Instagram.
Krista is a ‘Mother of Corals’, the foundation she founded in 2020 to help communities build artificial reefs for coral restoration. Krista spent years in the corporate world, and spent the majority of her vacation time traveling to remote places to go scuba diving. In 2017, she ‘flipped the script’, quit corporate, and moved to Bocas del Toro, Panama. There, her passion for the ocean and how to help it took an exponential leap. Mother of Corals has built artificial reefs in the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean while teaching best practices to communities in order to engage citizen scientists in the fight to restore coral reefs.
If their work inspires you, follow the links to connect with them. The more you celebrate them, the more support their work will get. Share this article using the #LoveCoral hashtag. And finally, let us know if there is someone we should add to the list!
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The Lewis Pugh Foundation is a registered charity in England & Wales.
Charity Registration no. 1168977.