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Can We Save Coral Reefs?

The Nature Conservancy has been working to protect coral reefs for decades, in countries all over the world. We work locally, with the people who directly manage and benefit from reefs. But we’re also expanding our perspective to look at the global drivers of threats to coral reefs, drivers such as illegal fishing, development and industry.This year we will be engaging with the corporate and finance sectors—new stakeholders that have never been a part of the coral reef conversation—to help us identify game-changing approaches to make sure coral reefs are still around once we get this CO2 mess figured out.

So, as a marine scientist, I say: It’s not time to give up hope.

I have dedicated my life to the study of coral reefs and their conservation for the past 15 years. My job is to protect coral reef ecosystems and develop new strategies to turn the tide of rapid decline witnessed over the last four decades. I ask myself all the time, am I doing enough?

I don’t kid myself that coral reefs are doing fine, or that they will someday flourish in abundance the way they did just a few decades ago. But I do think there will be reefs in the future, and they will still provide critically important services to the people that depend on them.

We know reefs are changing and, given all that we have done to them, they will be changing for the foreseeable future. But they are not lost and will not be if we take proper action—and science is showing us the way.

Note: This post is adapted from a recent blog on Cool Green Science. Read the full post.

Stephanie Wear is a marine scientist for The Nature Conservancy. Her work has mainly focused on working with coral reef managers to reduce the killer threats to coral reefs. She is currently working to improve tools that build resilience in coral reef communities so that coral reefs survive the impacts of a changing climate. Stephanie’s passion for coral reefs is matched by her obsession with living green as she continues to find ways to reduce her family’s impact on the planet.



(Top image: Clown anemonefish in the Coral Triangle, Indonesia. Source: Jeff Yonover.)

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12:20PM PDT on Apr 26, 2013

good information

10:03PM PDT on Apr 16, 2013


3:44PM PDT on Apr 14, 2013

thank you for an informative article...we do need to protect our reefs.

2:19PM PDT on Apr 13, 2013

Thanks for sharing

7:12AM PDT on Mar 24, 2013


12:37PM PST on Feb 28, 2013

Thank you to the Nature Conservancy for this work. More power to you.

1:16PM PDT on Oct 6, 2012

good read, thanks!!!

5:53AM PDT on Sep 24, 2012

interesting article, thanks for sharing :)

12:39PM PDT on Sep 22, 2012

Noted & Twittered. Thanks.

9:15PM PDT on Sep 20, 2012

The problem is that climatic change cannot be reversed. The ocean is capable of absorbing 525 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year. But now we have gone beyond that amount. Coral need zooxanthellae (a blue green algae) to survive, they perform the photosynthesis, just like with plants. Coral is a symbiosis of the animal polyps and the zooxanthellae. When the water reaches 91 Fahrenheit, it expels the zooxanthellae, and dies or coral bleaching. The sedimentation and dynamite fishing can be controlled, but not the climatic change.

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people are talking

Thanks, would be nice to actually see global action.

This is a very interesting and useful article.Thanks for sharing.

thank you for sharing

these are great! thx :)

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