According to World Resources Institute, human activity threatens the health of nearly 60 percent of the world’s coral reef. Add to that the estimated 30 percent of all coral reefs that are already dead or severely damaged and it’s easy to see that coral reef are in desperate need of attention if they are to survive for future generations.
As part of our on-going green projects, Langkawi Coral joined CoralWatch as a registered operator in monitoring activities to make a difference and protect coral reef ecosystem. We started collecting data for the monitoring of coral bleaching and assessment of coral health in Pulau Payar Marine Park, Malaysia. Besides, we also encourage our customers, snorkelers and divers to participate in CoralWatch activities.
CoralWatch is a non-profit research organization, initiated and underpinned by leading coral and sensory biologists from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. The organization has developed an inexpensive, simple, non-invasive method for the monitoring of coral bleaching, and assessment of coral health. By using the Coral Health Colour Chart, anyone can monitor bleaching and add essential data to a global monitoring database thus contribute to the protection of coral reefs worldwide.
CoralWatch collaborate with Project AWARE Foundation, a non-profit environmental organization founded by Professional Association of Diving Instructors, PADI with the mission to educate divers about emerging ocean issues and encourage participation in underwater conservation activities.
What Is Coral Bleaching?
Coral bleaching refers to the ‘whitening’ of corals due to a loss of the symbiotic dinoflagellates (algae) living within the tissue of the coral. In a healthy reef, the algae supply the coral with energy (sugars and amino acids) and in turn receive products essential to their survival (ammonia and phosphate).
During a bleaching event, the brownish algae disappear from the tissue of the corals, leading to a change in coloration from brown to a brilliant white, purple or green. This loss of the ‘nutrient factory’ in corals may lead to death of the corals, or the corals may slowly recover. However, even if they recover, their reproductive capacity is reduced, leading to long-term damage to the reef systems.
Elevated water temperatures due to global warming have been found to be the major cause of coral bleaching. Sea temperatures are predicted to continue to rise and bleaching is expected to occur more frequently, thus leading to the death of large areas of coral reefs worldwide within a few decades.
Currently, most coral health monitoring is done by scientists around a few reefs and very little is known about trends of coral bleaching on a global scale. There are still many questions that are yet to be answered in order to save the reefs.
If more and more people like tourists, operators, students or even individuals participate in the monitoring program, we will be able to understand more about the coral bleaching condition in Malaysia, and the severity of the bleaching events.
The collected data will also enable us to carry out appropriate measures to educate the public on the importance of coral reefs conservation.