June 26, 2008

International Year of the Reef June Update

By U.S. NGO Facilitator for IYOR 2008 Mary Luna

Join people around the world in celebrating reefs! Organize an IYOR 2008 event, or join one that is already planned! For more information, please visit www.iyor.org and https://reefdpd.wpengine.com/involved/iyor.php. We have updates from five countries this month, click the Read More button for the full stories!

With the wonderful support of the OneSea Organization and Gianluca Lamberti, we have been able to reach the People’s Republic of China with the reef conservation message! On June 24, 2008, 200 students gathered to sing and record the Year of the Reef Song and celebrate IYOR. Chinese media covered the event, and a video is being edited—stay tuned to watch these kids in action! In addition, 500 kids entered a coral reef drawing contest, and the top 10 drawings will be posted in our photo gallery. We thank all those who participated in these activities and worked to make them happen despite the challenges posed by the earthquakes that have shaken China. Click here to check out some pictures.
Costa Rica
The beach communities surrounding Playas del Coco collaborated to celebrate World Ocean Day on June 8. A community mural was created by marine artist Carlos Hiller, with the help of more than 70 local children in collaboration with local nonprofit children’s association Proyecto de Luz. The mural was created in honor of IYOR, and its main focus is on coral reefs. Hiller painted a huge Bull Shark, portraying the beauty and imposing presence of these wonderful creatures. “Stop shark finning!” was added to the mural in English and Spanish to protest the practice of shark fins being cut off and the bodies being thrown overboard. Kids painted, wrote letters and created drawings to send to governmental institutions, indicating their perceptions, desires, and hopes about the importance of protecting the marine environment. Hundreds of people united to clean beaches, build sand sculptures, and take boat rides. Everyone was eager to learn more about the protection of marine resources and at the same time, enjoyed a beautiful day along the Costa Rican shoreline. Click here for pictures from the event.
The coral reefs of the Red Sea are among the most beautiful and pristine on the entire planet. Many Italian scuba divers love to spend their holidays in this wonderful paradise. For this reason, the scientists of Reef Check Italy strongly emphasize the importance of safeguarding this heritage, and recently created an educational video about the Red Sea. The video was taken on a cruise in the Marine Park of the Brother “Islands”, two massive reef pillars emerging from the middle of the Red Sea. Their walls are covered by an incredible variety of soft coral, and because of the strong currents, they attract many pelagic fishes such as sharks and rays. During a special evening dedicated to IYOR 2008, Franco Rossi of Reef Check Italy gave an inspiring speech on International Year of the Reef, after which, attendees were happy to sign the Declaration of Reef Rights. Click here to check out the video.
Taiwan – SanYuan A-Mei Aboriginal Tribe
Reef Check Taiwan celebrated IYOR on Green Island. Their main themes were aboriginal culture and reef conservation. During this event, divers conducted a Reef Check survey, working with and discussing ideas about marine conservation with aboriginals from the SanYuan A-Mei Tribe. Click here to see pictures.
United States
The 11th International Coral Reef Symposium is just around the corner. This is a great opportunity to learn the latest on coral reef research and interact with like-minded individuals. The symposium will take place at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County (Florida) Convention Center, July 7-11, 2008. Activities will include scientific workshops, field trips to surrounding reefs, and concerts! That’s right, Reef Fest will showcase fantastic international and local musicians on July 8th and 9th at Alligator Alley in Fort Lauderdale from 7 PM to Midnight.
Speaking of music, creators of the Year of the Reef Song, Thin Ice, held their annual concert at Polliwog Park in Manhattan Beach on June 22nd. Two of the band’s members, Jim Miller and Russ Lesser, are members of Reef Check’s Board of Directors. As attendees enjoyed a gorgeous day and a smooth ocean breeze, they were treated to the voices of children singing along with the band during the Year of the Reef Song. Click here to see pictures from the event. What a great way to promote reef conservation among our youth!