Los Angeles, California –Renowned ocean scientist and National Geographic “Explorer-in-Residence” Dr. Sylvia Earle, and award-winning actress and ocean advocate Daryl Hannahsigned the “International Declaration of Reef Rights” underwater here on Friday. The International Declaration of Reef Rights is being distributed worldwide by the Reef Check Foundation to raise awareness about the coral reef crisis. More than five thousand people from 110 countries worldwide have signed the Declaration online and have pledged to take care of reefs at: www.reefcheck.org/petition/petition.php.
“Coral reefs and California rocky reef ecosystems are in trouble,” said Dr. Earle, former Chief Scientist of the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. “If reefs are in trouble, so are we! I think what Reef Check is doing is phenomenal: inspiring and motivating scientists, volunteers and the general public to take care of our ocean.”
Reef Check is calling on citizens of all countries to help preserve remaining coral reefs and to rehabilitate damaged reefs globally. Following the scuba dive, Daryl Hannah said, “If you don’t want to get trained as a diver, think about what you can do to help the reefs. Signing the Declaration, as I have done, is a good start.”
According to Reef Check’s Executive Director, Marine Ecologist Dr. Gregor Hodgson, no other ecosystem has been damaged as much as coral reefs over the past 20 years. During this period, 20% of the world’s coral reefs have been effectively destroyed and show no immediate prospects of recovery. The two corals that were previously found most commonly in the Caribbean have been placed on the U.S. Endangered Species list. Reefs protect the coast from storm damage and tsunami waves, and are a food source for 500 million people worldwide
According to Dr. Hodgson: “One day, a coral could save your life or the life of a loved one.” More than a dozen new pharmaceuticals are currently being tested based on unique compounds found in coral reef organisms. The strongest anti-leukemia drug is derived from a reef sponge. Tragically, 24% of the world’s reefs are under imminent risk of collapse from human impacts such as over-fishing, pollution and sedimentation, global climate change, and destructive blast and poison fishing; a further 26% face a longer term threat of collapse.
Founded in 1997, the Reef Check Foundation, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization, was established to reverse the coral reef crisis and to facilitate ocean conservation on a global scale. Reef ecosystems can be rehabilitated through public-private partnerships: Reef Check programs provide ecologically sound and economically sustainable solutions for local businesses and communities, and thousands of volunteers participate in its programs in over 90 countries and territories. Reef Check California was launched in 2005 to help conserve rocky reef life in our own state. Leonardo DiCaprio serves as the Honorary Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Pacific Palisades-based Foundation. A fundraiser for Reef Check will be held in Malibu on September 16, 2007, and Sylvia Earle and Daryl Hannah will be honored.