Corals In Crisis

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | April 15, 2009 12:53 pm

Up to 90 percent of the coral surrounding Okinawa’s islands has died off in the last decade, so scientists are initiating one of the largest coral restoration projects in the world.  Why the need for rescue?  Overfishing, disease, pollution, acidification, global warming, and more have decimated reefs (and biodiversity) worldwide. They need rehab in the worst way–we’re talking more than Amy Winehouse. Hence, the Sekisei Lagoon Reef is now being used to test new techniques for transplanting coral.


Sure it sounds promising, but will it work? Critics say the project is wasted effort given coastal redevelopment, agricultural runoff, and other activities that destroyed coral in the first place are still going strong… not to mention oceans continue getting warmer as the result of our pesky carbon problem.  Still, let’s not throw in the towel on this possibility yet.  It’s already been in progress for four years and although survival is low, investigators remind naysayers that reef recovery happens slowly over decades.  Furthermore, transplantation techniques are improving with some success.

So for now the jury’s out on whether Japan’s coral restoration initiative will succeed, but I’m encouraged that enough of us care about shifting baselines to take action.  Read more at the NYTimes

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Conservation, Marine Science

Comments (1)

  1. Come on, not more than Amy Winehouse. Who is she, by the way?

    On another note, I had met a friend who works for CSIRO in Australia and he could not stop praising the valiant efforts of those involved in such work. A big shout of “Bravo” to all of them for encouragement.


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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry.Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 info@hachettespeakersbureau.comFor more information, visit her website or email Sheril at


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