Conservation

Photo shows a coral reef with a background of the sun's rays shining into the waters
The Coral Reef Initiative seeks to protect at least 125,000 square kilometres of shallow-water tropical coral reefs.

Coral Reef Breakthrough: an initiative to safeguard world's coral reefs

Coral reefs are essential for marine biodiversity and climate resilience, supporting at least a quarter of marine species and offering ecosystem services worth up to $9.9 trillion annually. More than a billion people, including vulnerable coastal communities, depend on them for their livelihoods.

Today, these vital ecosystems are under threat due to the climate crisis and human activities, and time is running out to protect them.

Great Barrier Reef at the Whitsunday Islands, Australia.
Great Barrier Reef at the Whitsunday Islands, Australia.

Great Barrier Reef narrowly escapes UNESCO World Heritage downgrade

Australia's Great Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1981, narrowly avoided a downgrade to the "in danger" status during a recent meeting of the World Heritage Committee. The decision was made despite the repeated warnings by experts about the escalating impact of climate change on the world's largest coral reef system.

Rui Matsumoto taking an ultrasound reading on a whale shark. Photo by Simon Pierce
Rui Matsumoto taking an ultrasound reading on a whale shark. Photo by Dr Simon Pierce

Studying wild whale sharks in the Galapagos with underwater ultrasound and blood sampling

(VIDEO: Researcher Al Dove collecting a blood sample. Video by Dr Simon Pierce)

DS: What were some of the challenges encountered when doing underwater ultrasounds? How did the team overcome them?

Vibrant life on GBR - as it should be
The Great Barrier Reef is home to more than 1,500 types of fish, over 400 kinds of hard corals and dozens of other species.

Australia pledges 1 billion to protect Great Barrier Reef

Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled the nearly decade-long conservation package days ahead of a February 1 deadline set by UNESCO to submit a report on the reef's state of conservation, and months after it narrowly avoided being placed on the UN's cultural agency's "danger" list due to the threat of climate change.

“Any additional funding for the environment in Australia is welcome, as it is severely under-resourced. However, handing out cash for the Great Barrier Reef with one hand, while funding the very industry – fossil fuels – that’s driving devastating climate impacts like marine heatwaves and coral bleaching, means they are adding to the very problem they are claiming they want to fix.”

— Climate Councillor, climate scientist and Distinguished Professor of Biology at Macquarie University, Professor Lesley Hughes

Lake of Dreams: The Remaking of Tennessee's Gray Quarry

Gray Quarry, Tennesee, USA. Photo by Gordon Hutchinson
Gray Quarry, Tennesee, USA. Photo by Gordon Hutchinson

Avid diver and professor of computing Dr. Phil Pfeiffer gives an account of how the love of diving, persistence, US$100,000, and a homebrew aerator turned an abandoned quarry in the US state of Tennessee into a thriving dive site for a region that lacked one—and had lost prospective divers for want of a site.

Dive Green with Explorer Ventures Liveaboard Fleet

Starting back in 1987, Explorer Ventures put environmental consciousness at the heart of their business model before “sustainability” was an operational buzzword. This strong foundation has helped them navigate the changing tides of the pandemicand follow their customized sustainability management policy called Dive Green.

Environmental Project restores Belize Reefs

When Lisa Carne first visited Laughing Bird Caye National Park in 1994, the reef was vibrant and bursting with life, abundant with fish, corals, lobsters, crabs, sponges and sea turtles. After the hurricane, it was a scene of desolation, the seabed a swathe of rubble dotted with a few surviving corals. Hurricane Iris not only killed corals but uprooted their structure, making recovery more difficult.

Mmo iwdg / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Long-finned pilot whale cow with her calf, off the coast of Ireland. Photo by Mmo iwdg / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Buoy in Celtic Sea tracks oceanic noise

Equipped with an autonomous hydrophone, the buoy's function is to conduct for the first time real-time acoustic monitoring of the water's cetaceans to assess how oceanic noise pollution affects them. 

Deployed as part of the Smart Whale Sounds project, it will also track the distribution and behaviour of whale species in real-time and be used to train machine learning models to identify different species' calls.