I wanted to share with you the excitement I felt attending the Reef Futures 2018: A Global Coral Restoration and Interventions Science Symposium in December. Excitement was evident throughout the talks, and the visions were grand for this global conference. We heard about the Great Barrier Reef Marine Authority’s audacious effort to address coral bleaching due to climate change, including consideration of such possibilities as coral shading, a 5um biodegradable film over the corals that could reduce sunlight by 30%, cloud seeding, and pumping colder water from the deep. The most promising but cost-effective options are the biodegradeable film and/or the cloud seeding. Reed Noss presented a keynote on insights from terrestrial conservation and ecology for the conservation and restoration of coral reefs.
We heard from numerous nonprofits attempting coral restoration from all over the world, and exploring ways to enhance coral resilience. I was able to explore the coral restoration database, and attend the session on creating a regional vision for urban reef restoration: a case study from Biscayne Bay. An inspiring global youth group, called Wave of Change, was able to participate. One exciting corporate initiative was by a sponsor, Iberostar Hotels. This fourth-generation privately held Spanish chain of primarily coastal hotels has pledged to remove all single use plastics, and they are well on their way to reaching that goal! They have also pledged to restore coastal health in the areas surrounding their hotels, and are providing some funding to nonprofits to do just that.
I was able to meet with numerous potential partners and colleagues, including colleagues from The Nature Conservancy, University of Hawaii, Smithsonian, FWC, NOAA, Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida, and the Legacy Reef Foundation. I participated in a Pacific Islands lunch, and am trying to identify Pacific partners that we may be able to work with moving forward. REEF was invited to participate in a Florida Coral Disease working group discussion for the Keys, and we will hopefully be part of a grant proposal in this area, with REEF providing fish data. All in all, this was a great way to end 2018 and I look forward to being more partner-engaged and impactful for REEF in 2019!