Lagoons of New Caledonia named a UNESCO World Heritage site

July 11, 2008

Lagoons of New Caledoni (France), Pacific Ocean.

Part of a French-controlled island cluster located about 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) east of Australia, the lagoons of New Caledonia—including those around the islet pictured above—make up the third largest coral reef structure in the world.

The healthy, intact marine ecosystems are home to threatened fish species, turtles, and the world’s third largest population of dugongs, large vegetarian mammals related to manatees.

The lagoons were named a UNESCO World Heritage site in July 2008.

From National Geographic: Read more

Abrolhos Bank: Brazilian reef largest in South Atlantic Ocean

July 9, 2008

The largest and most diverse reef system in the South Atlantic Ocean, the Abrolhos Bank, is twice as large as thought and teeming with life, scientists now say.

“We had some clues from local fishermen that other reefs existed, but not at the scale of what we discovered,” said Rodrigo de Moura, Conservation International Brazil marine specialist and co-author of a study about the discovery. “It is very exciting and highly unusual to discover a reef structure this large and harboring such an abundance of fish.”

Home to a variety of marine species such as soft corals and mollusks found only in Brazil, the Abrolhos Bank is recognized as one of the planet’s most valuable coral reefs. And the most prevalent coral in this reef, the Mussismilia coral genus, represents the only remaining plants from a coral fauna with origins in the Tertiary period, which ranges from about 2 million to 65 million years ago.

Other creatures found at the reef include the dog snapper, black grouper, and adult and juvenile masked boobies.

From LiveScience.com: Read more

Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef

June 4, 2008

The Great Barrier Reef lovingly recreated in a giant piece of crochet? Science attempting to explain complex geometry – to a group of women wielding crochet hooks.

The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef came about by accident after its creator Margaret Wertheim read about a discovery by a mathematician called Daina Taimina: that you could model hyperbolic space using crochet, simply by increasing the number of stitches in each row until the fabric warps. Mathematicians had previously struggled to demonstrate hyperbolic surfaces, despite the fact that they appear throughout the natural world – in lettuce leaves, for example.

The reef has developed along evolutionary and art-historical lines. The sisters are now in their “postmodern phase”, working on a “toxic reef”, crocheted using plastic carrier bags sliced into ribbons and reels of videotape – a comment on the environmental damage being wreaked on the real Barrier Reef by pollution and waste. “People ask: is it art or science?” says Wertheim. “But I don’t believe in those classifications. This project is feminine handicrafts, it’s mathematics, it’s ecology – it crosses those boundaries.”

From the Guaradian.co.uk: Read more

Eternal rest in a watery grave….

May 12, 2008

About 14 metres beneath the ocean’s surface lies a cemetery with gates, pathways, plaques and even benches. The Neptune Memorial Reef, which opened last autumn, is seen by its creators as a perfect final resting spot for those who loved the sea. They hope the reef will one day cover 6.5 hectares (16 acres) and have room for 125,000 remains.

“This is simply as good as it gets,” said Gary Levine, a diver who conceived the reef and is now a shareholder in the company that owns it.

The Neptune Memorial Reef is located in open waters three miles off the coast of Key Biscayne, which means any certified diver can visit. The artificial reef’s first phase allows for about 850 remains.

The ashes are mixed with cement designed for underwater use and fitted into a mould, which a diver then places and secures into the reef. A copper and bronze plaque is installed with the person’s name, date of birth and death. There is also a line for a message.

The cost of a placement starts at $995 (£510) and can go up to $6,495.

From the Guardian: Read more

Kiribati: the world’s largest marine reserve

March 13, 2008

Kiribati Marine Reserve

Brian Handwerk
for National Geographic News
March 29, 2006

The Republic of Kiribati in the South Pacific has designated an enormous swath of Pacific atolls, coral reefs, and deep ocean to become one of the world’s largest marine reserves.

The Phoenix Islands Protected Area safeguards some of the planet’s most pristine coral reef ecosystems. The new marine park is the world’s third largest, topped only by Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

The protected region spans some 73,800 square miles (184,700 square kilometers “a stretch of ocean twice the size of Portugal” and includes eight virtually uninhabited coral atolls.

The reserve is home to a panoply of marine life, including over 120 coral species and more than 500 types of fish—some found nowhere else.

Seabirds and turtles also frequent the region, which lies along key migration routes.

The park includes deep-ocean habitat found in no other marine reserve and protection extends even to seamounts on the ocean floor.

Read more