Extreme measures to save corals at GBR

by TNP Editor 2021-4-30

SCIROUsing “cloud brightening” technology, controlling the spread of a predator starfish, and introducing heat-tolerant corals, scientists at CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, hope to slow the demise of corals at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR).

The cloud brightening technology is experimental; it is based on spraying salt crystals into the air above the GBR, making clouds more reflective of sunlight and thus cooling waters around the reef.

image0Scientists hope to tightly control the population of the predatory crown-of-thorn starfish, which feed on corals.

Likewise, by introducing different corals, scientists hope to maintain coral coverage with more hardy and heat-tolerant species.

The simulation work done by CSIRO suggests a reprieve of up to 20 years based on these combined interventions. A key assumption of the model is that global temperatures will not rise beyond 1.8 degrees Celsius by the year 2100, and the emission of greenhouse gases and other climate factors will need to be addressed.

3rd bleaching event in 5 years at The Great Barrier Reef

by TNP Editor 2020-4-19

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is suffering from its third massive coral bleaching event since 2016.  Terry Hughes, a top coral expert at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, surveyed the reef system and reported severe levels of bleaching in all three sections – north, central and south – of the Great Barrier Reef.

Last3bleachingEventsThe Great Barrier Reef experienced five mass bleaching events – in 1998, 2002, 2016, 2017 and 2020.

This third event in five years is the most widespread and it greatly affected the deep water coral reefs.

February 2020 saw the highest monthly sea temperatures ever recorded at the Great Barrier Reef since 1900.

Past coral bleaching events typically took place during El Nino, a climate phenomenon that sees the reversal of ocean current flow and the warming of the South Pacific  waters.

With rising ocean temperature around the globe, however, these bleaching events are occurring more frequently and more widespread.

Bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef

by TNP Editor 2019-5-10

One of the seven world’s natural wonders, The Great Barrier Reef is the only living thing on Earth that is visible from space, stretching from north to south over 2,300 km off the coast of Queensland. Located in the Coral Sea, in an area of 340,000 sq km, the Great Barrier Reef is comprised of 900 tropical islands and over 2,900 individual reef systems and coral cays.

The reef structure is built by billions of tiny organisms called coral polyps that form a symbiotic relation with coral algae. Together, a diverse ecosystem was formed over the millennia that includes dolphins, turtles, sharks and, of course, coral reef fish and crustaceans. These species interact with each other to comprise a delicate ecosystem that depends on the coral reef for thriving and surviving.

In 2017, BBC News reported two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef were damaged in an unprecedented bleaching, or a loss of  algae. This bleaching – which turned the resultant coral reef ‘white and lifeless’ – started at the north section in the years prior and now it’s hitting the middle section. Thus far, it had damaged a 1,500 km stretch of the reef, according to aerial surveys.

Chemical runoff, over-fishing, climate change, habitat destruction, and coastal development all have contributed to the causes of bleaching and subsequent reef damages. Scientists and policy makers are making efforts to raise the awareness and remedy the situation.

We will report more on their work and progress in the years to come.

ECRS: A Rainbow of Experiences


by Austin Yeung 2017-12-17

Never have I thought that as a high schooler, would I be presenting at Oxford University to an audience of world renown researchers. It was never in my realm of possibilities before I decided to submit an abstract. But there I was, presenting my own research conducted in Palau. Original, unique data that only I had. I felt an immediate sense of gratification and appreciation for the opportunity after stepping into Oxford’s Examination hall. The lecture halls were grand, and I felt a sense of purpose just being present at the university. It is the oldest English-speaking university after all.

While being anxious before my talk, I felt an overwhelming wave of pride for offering the information I had with the scientific community. Coral reefs became a passion of mine after I received my scuba diving license, and I’ve loved the ocean ever since. The chance to make a contribution, regardless of its significance, was a once in a lifetime opportunity for any high school student. The talk was successful with an engaging audience asking questions, although I was advised not to jump to too many conclusions (haha).

Contine reading

Alan Yeung to present at ECRS 2017

by Alan Yeung 2017-12-11

I will be presenting as Executive Director of Nature Pacific Foundation at the upcoming European Coral Reef Symposium (ECRS2017) at Oxford, England on December 15, 2017.

Under Session 7 – Can volunteers bridge the knowledge gap in reef conservation and research? Lessons from the field, this talk is entitled “21st century education: supporting reef conservation and research through experiential and service learning in Borneo, Palau and China.”

Contine reading

Ecotourism in Palau

by Austin Yeung 2017-08-3

I’m back! and this time, I brought three friends of mine with me on a research expedition to Palau. William Huang, Nigel Yang, and Sebastian Charmot, along with myself from Shanghai American School (SAS) came to conduct independent research on eco-tourism in Palau. We visited U.S. Ambassador Amy Hyatt and USDA Officer Paul Lake at the U.S. Embassy in Koror. It was our first time in a U.S. Embassy on American soil in a foreign country!

With the help of Ambassador Hyatt and Mr. Lake, we met with a number of Palau government officials and interviewed them on environmental policies set in place – by the Palauan government – to conserve and preserve.  We explore, through inquiry-based learning and our own questionnaires, how  Palau can protect its conservation success, yet further its eco-tourism industry.

It has been a great experience for all of us. And I am glad I had the privilege and honor in leading this expedition.


SAS & HKU learning experience

by Austin Yeung 2017-07-28

Four Shanghai American Schoool high school students, including myself, collaborated with two researchers, Dr. Shelby McIlroy and Vicki Sheng, from The Swire Institute of Marine Science at the University of Hong Kong, to conduct field research on the coral reefs in Palau.

Chasing Coral: A Documentary

by Austin Yeung 2017-07-15

Chasing Coral – A Documentary Film. This amazing new documentary on coral captures the beauty of the ocean and outlines the causes of worldwide bleaching.

Its emotional journey takes place in Hawaii and Australia, where reefs are hit by rising sea temperatures. Highly recommended.