To develop long-term solutions for coral reef management, we have to understand the threats to coral reefs, such as rising sea temperatures. Elena will survey the reefs in D’Arros and St Joseph in the Seychelles, comparing this year’s findings to previous data.
This project will aim to analyze, summarize and report on the physical and biological data associated with coral reef bleaching event at D’Arros and St. Joseph Island in 2016.
This project is unique because it will use long term (6 year) data on the marine environment and community to assess the impacts of the 2016 coral reef bleaching event at D’Arros and St. Joseph Island. It will result in a unique understanding of the severity and impact of the global coral bleaching event locally and regionally and contribute to the global understanding of how bleaching events impact marine communities.
The effects of the third global coral bleaching event reached the reefs of D’Arros and St. Joseph Atoll in 2016. Global mass coral bleaching began in earnest in 2015 and, driven by a strong El Niño, persisted throughout 2016 to become what is now the longest and most widespread bleaching event in recorded history. All three global coral bleaching events have occurred in the past twenty years due largely to changing trends in sea temperature heightened by strong El Niño weather patterns. While coral reefs can recover from bleaching events, they require time between events, or sustained normal sea temperatures, which has not occurred during the latest bleaching event. Coral reefs only make up a small proportion of ocean but support approximately 25% of all marine species and as such their health is critically important for the marine environment.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are only effective if the species you want to safeguard stays within its borders. Evan will assess factors such as movement, energy use, and prey availability to understand if and how these factors govern the home range size of sharks, ultimately improving the design of MPAs.
To protect certain species of sharks and their habitats, we need to have a clear understanding about how they behave and interact with their environment. Jenna will use accelerometer tags (technologically similar to activity trackers such as fitbits) to measure sicklefin lemon shark behaviour in three-dimensions.
In the Mediterranean, species such as guitarfishes, the spiny butterfly ray and angel sharks are all Critically Endangered or Endangered, making their conservation management vital. Ioannis is using a combination of local knowledge, BRUVs and scuba surveys to search for key aggregation areas and essential habitats for the elasmobranchs of Kos Island in the South Aegean Sea.