January 18, 2008

Happy New International Year of the Reef!

The excitement about the International Year of the Reef grows as 2008 progresses. Following are some of the many events already planned:
  • The IYOR international launch will start with a kickoff event and reception on January 24th at the World Bank in Washington D.C. and culminate with a symposium on the 25th at the Mexican Culture Center. The second event is rather appropriate as the U.S. and Mexico are co-chairing the International Coral Reef Initiative Secretariat from 2007-2009.
  • In Mexico, the Centro Ecologico Akumal in Akumal Quintana Roo will hold a Reefs Photo Show on January 29th to kick off the International Year of the Reef. The deadline to submit photos is January 25th.
  • Reef Check and Reef Check Australia will be hosting an international ocean photo competition. The competition was initiated last year in Australia with amazing photos being submitted and the media coverage being phenomenal. This year, we are expanding it to the international level in celebration of the International Year of the Reef. The five major themes, to be released sequentially throughout 2008, are: People and the Reef, Creative Visions of Coral Reefs, The Reef in our Hands, Animal Behavior, and Icons of the Reef. We are seeking corporate sponsors for each of the five categories. So keep your eyes open for more details and get your camera and underwater equipment ready!
  • In addition, the renowned artist Troy Hotard is creating a painting in celebration of the International Year of the Reef 2008. In Troy’s words, “the design is filled with meaning. The spherical appearance of the reef represents the global aspect of the reef issues. The divers are swimming counter-clockwise to represent the idea that we are trying to “turn back the hands of time” for the reefs… trying to halt the seemingly inevitable march towards reef destruction. The fish swim in the other direction representing the idea that the sea creatures don’t have a choice… they must deal with whatever the future brings. The divers are also depicted with dive lights representing the attempt to bring knowledge and education (light) to the issues facing today’s reefs. And finally, the sunlight at the top represents our ultimate hopes…. reef preservation and conservation for future generations.”
  • Music has also become a part of IYOR. Reef Fest, an official IYOR 2008 project, will organize a series of concerts and festivals that will take place in several U.S. coral reef locations. The purpose is to raise awareness of the need to preserve reefs worldwide and raise funds that will go to support conservation projects. Two events are already planned, one at Tobacco Road in Miami on March 22nd and the other at the Nova University Concert Green.
  • As you may already know, IYOR is making special efforts to engage the for-profit sector in best practices and thus support awareness of employees and consumers. Tiffany & Co. stopped using real coral in their jewelry in an effort to help protect these endangered organisms. Similarly, on January 23rd in New York City, the organization Sea Web will launch their “Too Precious to Wear” campaign, which involves leaders in the fashion and design world creating alternative products that celebrate the aesthetic value of corals and promote awareness.
You may contact us with any questions or comments at iyor2008@reefcheck.org. We will continue to keep you updated on the events and successes of the IYOR 2008 campaign in future issues.