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July 2013: Reclaimed Wreck Wins Photo Contest/ Take Action for Corals/ Art Builds Reef Awareness/ Airlines Vow to Help Sharks/ Resilient Reefs

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A Moorish idol (Zanclus cornutus) swims near the Fujikawa Maru; photo by Brandi Mueller
Reclaimed Wreck Wins Photo Contest

Sunk in Operation Hailstone, a massive World War II airstrike against the Japanese navy base at Truk (now Chuuk) Lagoon, the Fujikawa Maru has since become one of the world's most popular wreck dives. In her winning shot for our July photo contest, Brandi Mueller captures the rainbow of life that, over the past six decades, has gradually covered the grey steel ships and planes lost in the raging two-day battle. The photo is punctuated by a single Moorish idol (Zanclus cornutus), gliding through the wreck. A cleanup plan to remove oil from the fleet's tanks before they start to leak is pending. Download Brandi's Winning Photo and Enter the September Photo Contest

Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata), Cordelia Banks, Honduras; photo by CORAL staff
Take Action for Corals

Elkhorn and staghorn corals, the backbone of coral reef ecosystems in Florida and the Caribbean, have declined by 90 percent since the 1970s. Both species were listed as threatened in 2006 by the federal government, and a recovery plan was drawn up establishing goals and actions to help the corals. However, the plan has still not been approved or implemented, putting these corals—and the entire coral reef ecosystem where they're found—at risk. Please consider signing the petition of our colleagues at the Center for Biological Diversity, urging the government to finalize and release the plan. "Everyone agrees that we need healthy coral reefs, and the future of Caribbean corals is uncertain. CORAL works in communities to protect these coral reefs, while the Center draws on US policies to conserve corals. Together, we are asking the federal government to issue the recovery plan for Caribbean corals, which will guide management actions and funding for coral conservation efforts in the US and internationally," says CBD's Miyoko Sakashita. Sign the Petition

Celia Gregory's mermaid sculpture calls attention to Jemeluk Bay; photo by Luca Vaime
Art Builds Reef Awareness

Can a mermaid help coral reefs? In Amed, Indonesia, artist Celia Gregory, founder of the Marine Foundation, hopes that her new, three-meter-tall mermaid sculpture—which was sunk into Jemeluk Bay in May during an event co-sponsored by CORAL—will help draw more attention to the plight of Amed's coral reefs. "Human beings are very visual," says Gregory. "This eye-catching structure will help spread awareness of environmental issues in a way that does not inform through fear but through hope and creative engagement." While CORAL works with communities to address the root causes of coral reef decline—overharvesting of reef fish, water pollution, and destructive development—our Coral Triangle Regional Manager Naneng Setiasih suggests that projects like this can only help create broader awareness. "With the rapid growth of environmental challenges, we have to think outside the box. We have to start working closely with others outside of conventional conservation groups." Read More

Tens of millions of sharks are killed each year for their fins; photo courtesy of Pew Environment Center
Airlines Vow to Help Sharks

Many of the major airlines based in the western Pacific have recently taken action to help sharks. Air New Zealand, Asiana, Qantas, and Korean Air have pledged to stop transporting shark fins, while Cathay Pacific and Fiji Airways (formerly Air Pacific) will no longer carry "unsustainably harvested" fins. Because there are no data that can be used to measure whether sharks are harvested sustainably, this pledge equates to a ban, says CORAL's Conservation Programs Director Rick MacPherson. "If implemented as promised, it will slow the supply of fins to Asia from Fiji," says MacPherson. "Fiji is the major hub for shark fin traffic in the South Pacific. As many as 10,000 sharks per month are taken from Fijian waters for the shark trade. Until we can break that supply chain, sharks will still be threatened." Read More

Convict surgeonfish help keep coral-smothering macroalgae at bay; photo by CORAL staff
Resilient Reefs

Two of the biggest local-scale threats to reefs are overfishing and water pollution. CORAL's Executive Director, Michael Webster, talks about what makes reefs resilient—including how herbivorous fish can help—in his latest blog posts for the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History's Ocean Portal. Read them at Naturally Resilient and Helpful Herbivores.

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