Everyone loves the beach. Whether it’s the Jersey shore, beautiful Caribbean beaches, or even the white cliffs of dover. Well, whether you may know it or not, these beautiful ecosystems are in danger. The threat, however, is not something that can be seen from your chair in the sand, it can be seen when you venture out into the alien-like world of the reefs of the ocean.
There is a great deal of loss happening right beneath our noses. Let me just put something into perspective; if humans are an example of a species, their class would be mammalia. If roses are an example of a species, their class would be angiosperms. Imagine losing the entire population of mammals on the planet. Imagine losing the entire population of every flowering plant on the planet. This exact issue is happening right now. I give this example because I want to portray the absolute magnitude of an issue. However, it’s not happening to roses, and we know for sure that this is not happening to humans, but corals are the ones that are in danger.
This issue is something that really weighs heavily on my heart because of my deep connection with the ocean. Ever since I was able to walk, I was swimming in the surf and digging in the sand for small sand crabs. This is mainly because of my family background which is heavily based in the Caribbean on a small island called Nevis. I have been back and forth constantly for the past seventeen years of my life. While everyone visits the Caribbean for the carefree environment and Americanized resorts on the beach, I always longed for something else. Something to infatuate my energetic and chaotic mind of mine. Then it came to me: I was swimming with my grandmother when I was four years old off of the coast of Saint Kitts (a neighboring island to Nevis) when I first caught a glimpse of the magnificent beauty that lives beneath the ocean’s waves: coral reefs. There was something about the absolute harmony that everything functioned, almost like it was clockwork. Each year afterwards, I always came back with a new question or idea I wanted clarified. However, as I grow older and become more politically and environmentally aware in the world, I am able to see more than what I did when I was a child, which is a blessing and a curse. Growing up meant that I needed to eventually face the hard truth: there is something wrong with the environment. However, it is not something that we can see on a regular basis so it rarely affects us. This is why I decided to focus my Independent Research topic on the problems that exist in our world for coral reefs.
After watching the movie Chasing Coral, I was able to see that there is hope because there are people that are trying to make a difference, just like I am. Watching the film has really helped me in the process of kick starting this project because it lead me to meeting my project mentor: Zack Rago. Zack just finished up his college career at University of Colorado in Boulder a few years back and is heavily invested in the movement to help raise awareness and problem-solve in the global fight against coral bleaching. This is why I am so happy to announce that he will be by my side throughout the process in helping me through my project.
As far as actual project ideas, I still have many kinks to work out and ideas to go through. The most likely of my ideas is to do a side-by-side project with what I will be working on in my Environmental Research class with T. Dana Jensen. This proposal would include building a coral tank in the lab in the science center lab and running different tests on the different tanks (one being a controlled tank) and then after all of the data collection, moving the tank into the library for the sake of building an interactive study break opportunity for students. I would plan to get information across to people by means of an application on some sort of screen. This application would probably be given to someone in the computer science course for the sake of applied skills. As far as that part of the plan goes, I have approached both T. Tom Gilbert (Computer Science teacher) as well as T. Dana.
P.S. If there is anyone that would like to get a little bit of context or other broad background information, I would HIGHLY suggest watching the Netflix film: Chasing Coral. I will also post a link to an interview with Zack Rago talking about his experience making the movie: Chasing Coral as well as his personal views on the topics that the movie tries to outline.
Images taken by Grant Thomas from The Ocean Agency
- https://theocean.agency/chasing-coral/ – Link to the Ocean Agency which is responsible for supporting the photographers that take pictures like the ones above as well as promoting Chasing Coral
- https://www.5280.com/2017/07/the-coral-nerd-who-stole-your-heart-in-netflixs-chasing-coral-is-from-colorado/ – This is the interview with Zack Rago