Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Super Coral

Here's an interesting story that needs to be told. It happened to my friend in the South Pacific, Richard Chesher.  He's a Ph.D. marine biologist, and a world class reef photographer, widely admired for his beautiful panographic images.  I've written about Rick Chesher six times before in this blog. He has his own blog label that you can click on if you'd like to read the other entries about him.

I was talking to Rick the other day via Google Plus.   We were discussing climate change and the impact on the marine environment. The two principle impacts are elevated ocean surface temperatures and increased acidification of surface waters.  These two issues trigger a cascade of other consequences. Ocean reefs and corals are particularly vulnerable to higher temperatures and acidification.  In fact, reef ecosystems in many parts of the world are in steep decline, in no small part because of climate change.

Finding isolated populations of super coral that have successfully adapted to higher water temperatures is very important.  Rick Chesher has identified just such a coral ecosystem.  It is in the protected waters of Port Moselle Marina in Noumea in New Caledonia, where Rick and his wife, Freddie live. The corals in Port Moselle are thriving, despite elevated water temperatures and high levels of pollutants from sewage and storm drain runoff.

Port Moselle, New Caledonia

Rick Chesher is retired from marine research.  Hoping to connect with a scientist actively working on coral reefs and climate change, Rick created a webpage about the corals in Port Moselle.  He also identified a university professor in Australia, who has received funding to search for coral reefs that have adapted to higher ocean temperatures.  When Rick contacted the researcher in Australia, he was , more or less, rebuffed.  Amazing.  Here's somebody - a trained professional tasked with finding heat adapted coral populations - and the response is disinterest. You have to wonder what kind of politics are driving that brand of bad attitude.

Port Moselle, New Caledonia

Anyway, Rick Chesher is hoping to attract some interest from  a marine scientist somewhere, who will pick up the ball and follow through with a serious study of these climate change adapted corals in New Caledonia.

Here is a link to Rick Chesher's page on the super corals of Port Moselle Marina in Noumea, New Caledonia ..  http://www.tellusconsultants.com/resistant-corals-super-corals-coral-bleaching.html

Here is a link to one of Rick Chesher's panograph images of Port Moselle...  http://www.360cities.net/image/port-moselle-marina-noumea#254.90,-5.30,60.0

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