We’ve arrived in Pemuteran and on our first day enjoyed a beautiful sunset!

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One thing we’ve learned since arriving in Pemuteran is that it’s pretty hard to be a coral nowadays. In recent years, there has been a lot of damage to the reef in Pemuteran because of unsustainable fishing and invasions of crown-of-thorns starfish and sea snails. On our dive and snorkel, we saw the effects of global warming and an El Niño year—lots of coral bleaching. Interestingly, certain corals, or even parts of corals, are more susceptible than others.

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Our group with expert Tierney Thys before exploring the reef while snorkeling or diving.

Coral bleaching occurs when waters are warmer than usual. Coral is in a symbiotic relationship with a photosynthetic algae, Zooxanthellae, which gives coral its color and provides it with food. In turn, the algae is given protection by living inside the coral. When the coral is stressed, it expels the algae and if the water continues to be warm the coral will eventually starve to death. Luckily, these factors are being combated with a conservation effort called Biorock, which began in 2000. Biorock provides coral nurseries for the reef, which consist of metal structures attached to 12 volt cables. This creates a chemical reaction that causes mineral structures to settle on the metal, and creates a base for coral. Baby corals are then attached to the structure. We had the opportunity to see the structures on our dive and snorkel, and the biodiversity of all the colorful corals.

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Healthy corals growing on a Biorock structure.

Biorock has an “adopt a coral” program which encourages people to donate money and sponsor a baby coral, which they then get to see grow and become part of a bigger reef structure on the Biorock. We are planning on adopting corals, and placing a biorock structure later in the week, so today we shaped our names out of metal so we can later identify our corals.

 

Shaping our names out of wire, which will become part of our Biorock coral structure.

Shaping our names out of wire, which will become part of our Biorock coral structure.

By students Elizabeth and Maddy.