October 27, 2008

International Year of the Reef October Update

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

It is only two months until the end of the International Year of the Reef and the festivities continue! For those who are not involved yet, there is still time to sign the International Declaration of Reef Rights, enter Reef Check’s Youth Singing Contest, or participate in any reef conservation activity that adds momentum to the already unstoppable IYOR. Living away from the ocean or a coral reef is no excuse!

Marine biologists and underwater photographers Wayne and Karen Brown from The Ocean Adventure are raising coral reef awareness during the IYOR through their national school assembly, The Australia Great Barrier Reef Expedition. This exciting K-8th grade program ties in with the popular movie “Finding Nemo” and takes the audience on a virtual expedition using audience participation, biological models, and breathtaking HD digital projection! A large, 6-foot long coral reef is built on stage and a gigantic 8-foot tall inflatable coral polyp makes a surprise appearance at the end of the show.  Students also learn how and why coral reefs grow only in certain unique places around the world and how they are threatened. What a fun way to learn about corals!
In November, the Village of Tequesta Parks & Recreation Department in Florida will be taking steps towards saving the Earth for Tequesta’s future. Their annual Harvest Festival will include the usual fun rides, great entertainment, yummy food, and games. This year, however, they will also incorporate environmental components. As a contribution to the IYOR they have invited Reef Check to be part of the Festival. Reef Check will be working with Earth Rehab to promote awareness of coral reef issues through the International Declaration of Reef Rights and other educational materials during the Harvest Festival. If you live nearby, or happen to be in the area, be sure to come by our booth and learn more!
Many contests are being held around the world to raise awareness of reef ecosystems. The Horizon International Magic Porthole’s First Environment Achievement Contest, for example, asks people to talk about their efforts to help save coral reefs, no matter how far they live from the ocean. Individuals of all ages and organizations are invited to participate, and the deadline has been extended to December 31, 2008. Aquariums, museums and coral reef organizations, including Reef Check, are offering prizes for this contest. It is very easy to enter, so do it today! Contest details are posted on the Magic Porthole website.
USVI’s tireless efforts to engage residents in marine conservation continue! During the 7th and last movie of their FREE Family Movie Night series, they will show “Shark Tale” on Friday, November 21st from 7:00 to 8:30 pm at the University of the Virgin Islands Great Hall- there will be free popcorn! In addition, St. Croix’s IYOR Committee and St. Croix’s Environmental Association (SEA) have teamed up for IYOR to offer free snorkel clinics to St. Croix community members. The next clinics will be held November 22nd from 10am to noon at Green Cay Beach (SEA’s Southgate Coastal Reserve) and December 14th from 10 am to noon at Fort Frederik Beach. Experience the beauty of reefs firsthand and learn how to use your snorkeling gear properly.  Snacks and prizes will be available! For more information contact Karlyn Langjahr at karlyn.langjahr@dpnr.gov.vi or (340) 773-3367.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Coral Reef Conservation Program is celebrating the IYOR by offering free environmental classes- availability is limited, so reserve your spot early! Marine Invertebrate Identification will be held on November 19 from 1 to 4pm. This course will introduce you to the most common sea sponges, octocorals (soft corals), crustaceans, echinoderms and mollusks that you’re likely to encounter when diving or snorkeling on southeast Florida coral reefs. The next class, Stony Coral Identification, will be held on December 17 from 12 to 4pm. This course will introduce you to roughly thirty species of stony corals that are found within Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Martin Counties. A test will be administered at the end of each class and all participants will receive a resource CD-ROM of images from the course for future reference. Please contact Christopher.Boykin@dep.state.fl.us to reserve your spot. Classes will be held at Barry University in Room #166 of the Library (building 3) 11300 N.E. Second Avenue Miami Shores, FL 33161.