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January 2014: You Did It! / Photogenic Invader / CORAL Field Peeps / Right Fish, Wrong Fish / Ripple Effect, From Hawai'i to Mexico

Thanks to all who participated in our year-end giving challenge; illustration by Emily M. Eng
You Did It!

Our triple match was a success! Thanks to just over 1,000 donors, we not only met, but also exceeded our year-end challenge goal of $100,000. We truly appreciate the enthusiastic participation of so many, including our CORAL International Council members and some of our most generous benefactors, who helped raise over $300,000 for our coral reef conservation initiatives.

And though we reached our target, we still have many projects that would benefit greatly from your support. If you haven’t yet contributed to this campaign, please donate today to continue the momentum your fellow CORAL partners have started. Thank you! Make a Donation

A red lionfish (Pterois volitans), off Roatan, Honduras; photo by Larry Shults
Photogenic Invader

Congratulations to Larry Shults of Aberdeen, North Carolina, for submitting the winning photo for our first contest of 2014! While Larry is a newcomer to underwater photography, he produced this great image of an invasive red lionfish (Pterois volitans) while diving in one of CORAL's project sites (Roatan, Honduras). We've worked extensively to curb these invasive predators in the Caribbean by encouraging divers to fish for them (they're delicious), but neglected to ask Larry if he had his subject for dinner. Download Larry's Photo Enter the Photo Contest

Honduras Field Representative Pamela Ortega leads CORAL's efforts on the island of Utila; photo by CORAL staff
CORAL Field Peeps

While in San Francisco for our 2013 annual field summit in September, CORAL’s Honduras Field Representative Pamela Ortega sighed as she gazed out the window at the surrounding concrete canyon. “I need to be around mountains, lakes, the sea, or risk becoming very depressed,” she said. “I’m driven by nature.”

In college, she was invited by a friend to take an open water diving course—she had to lie to her mother in order to take it—and became fascinated by the world she saw underwater. After graduating with a degree in environmental engineering, Pamela went to work for social causes and later for the Bay Islands Conservation Association (“BICA”), where she took a reef-monitoring course.

She became captivated by the complexity of coral reefs. “Once I started learning about coral polyps, how mysterious and complicated they are, their tentacles and how they eat, the more fascinated I became. I wanted to be able to convey something so complex like that to other people, to share my enthusiasm,” she says. Read More

A humphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum, top) and a Maori wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus); top photo by Wai-Lun To, bottom photo by Patryk Krzyzak
Right Fish, Wrong Fish

Thanks to David Welder for asking about the difference between parrotfish and wrasses in last month's coin contest; he thought the image on the coin looked remarkably like a Maori wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) and was curious about how they are related to the humphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum).

Turns out it looked like a Maori wrasse because it is one! We obviously did not examine the mouth of the fish on the coin closely enough. These wrasses have large, succulent lips, not the toothier grins of the reef-grinding parrotfish.

Here is a selection of some of the other questions we received—and answers from CORAL’s experts. Read More

The Coral Princess Hotel and Hotel B in Cozumel, Mexico now display CORAL materials in their guest rooms; photo by CORAL staff
Ripple Effect, from Hawai'i to Mexico

Despite working in different countries with different cultures, our field staff face similar challenges when it comes to coral reef conservation. Sharing ideas and lessons learned—via email, Skype, or in person at our yearly field summit—has led to a ripple effect from our successes. When she attended a CORAL field summit and saw the educational materials our Hawai‘i staff had created for hotel guests, CORAL’s Mexico Field Representative Adriana Gonzalez decided to replicate the idea in Cozumel. After receiving an enthusiastic response from two large hotels, Adriana produced 500 large, colorful booklets about coral reef ecology—with gorgeous photos of coral reef creatures donated by local photographers—that were placed in the rooms and common areas of the hotels. “Both the Coral Princess Hotel and Hotel B Cozumel gladly received the material,” says Adriana. “The manager at the Coral Princess was so enthusiastic he asked for digital files to show on the TV in the lobby.”

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Coral Reef Alliance
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