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Marine Biology

Life Transforming Marine Science Summer Camps for Youth in California

Marine Science Summer Camps in California

Mountain and Sea Adventures offers the most interactive and inspiring marine science summer camps in California. Our hands-on field activities reinforce what they have been learning in class through the year, and impart a personal experience of field science, which acts as the foundation for a deeper appreciation for the wonderful world of marine biology and oceanography. This kid of one-on-one encounter with the natural world and resulting love for science is something that cannot be replicated inside the classroom.

Marine Biology Camps in California

When you arrive at camp Emerald Bay, at the west side of Santa Catalina Island, your life is changed forever. There is no going back. Each person who attends is deeply impacted by the raw beauty of nature that surrounds them, and the endless opportunities to develop themselves, which the program affords.

The location of Emerald Bay makes it a unique location for studying marine biology. Camps in California are a dime a dozen, but only one gives you and your students the opportunity to not only visit, but live at the most desirable location on Catalina Island, camp Emerald Bay with Mountain and Sea Adventures!

Campers learn to keep a field journal, and to conduct actual field science during their camp activities. After trawling for plankton on board our pontoon boat, campers look at their samples under high-powered microscopes in the multi million-dollar research center, The Pennington Marine Science Center. There are no other marine biology camps in California that offer so much to local schools and their students!

Oceanography summer camps

During the summer, when schools are not in session, the MSA staff launches our summer program on board our hundred and twelve foot marine research vessel, The Enhydra! This vessel is a floating hotel with all the gear and equipment necessary for the best oceanography summer camp of your life!

Summer Floating Sea Camp program activities include:

  • Jumping off the top deck of the ship!
  • Discover scuba diving
  • Surfing on the backside of the island
  • Live on board a mini cruise ship.
  • Study marine biology and Oceanography
  • Hike, snorkel, kayak, and play together in the water!

Life Transforming Programs for Kids

Being outside of your comfort zones gives you the unique opportunity to push your self to achieve greater heights, to develop various qualities and traits (some of which you may never have known you had!), and to make friendships that often last a life time!

Although it is the time of your life, MSA’s program is challenging – without a doubt! However, it is this opportunity to challenge your self, face your fears and achieve personal victory that makes this program so life transforming.

For the MSA Staff, teaching good solid marine science is important, and we are passionate about it, but not nearly as passionate as we are about building character in youth and helping each individual child expand their horizons and demonstrate to them selves that they are capable of greater than what they had previously thought possible.

Marine Science Adventures in The Matchless Beauty of Catalina Island

Catalina Island is one of the greatest resources for Californians, with miles of breathtaking and undeveloped coastline, remote beaches, hidden sea caves, sandy beaches, and endless island ecosystems.

Just coming to the island imparts a deep personal love and passion for the marine environment. Activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, trawling for plankton and hiking the various trails of the island, give students the opportunity to take what they have learned in the brief lecture before hand and use the scientific method to conduct their own actual field research.

At the end of each program activity campers are encouraged to develop a hypothesis and to observe the findings in their field journals to conclude their thoughts.

Celebrating 20 years of outdoor education, Mountain and Sea Adventures inspires thousands of youth to become environmental stewards and world changers every year. You can attend one of our programs as a school, small or large group, family or individual! No matter where you attend one of our programs you can look forward to an educational adventure you and your group will remember for a life time!

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Marine Biology Camps on Catalina Island California

The Most Desirable Cove on Catalina: Camp Emerald Bay

img_2400_zps61378fc9Emerald Bay is on the west end of the island and is home to one of the most popular marine biology camps on Catalina, run by Mountain and Sea Adventures. This cove is naturally protected by a small point and rocky reefs, creating a safe and calm estuary for marine life to thrive. The gentle ocean conditions allow campers with limited experience swimming to safely enjoy such activities as snorkeling, kayaking, and free time playing on the beach.

The facilities at Emerald Bay make it among the most elite marine biology camps on Catalina, with a fully functional salt water aquarium allowing campers to see more than four various local marine ecosystems, as well as the opportunity to pet a shark or ray in the shark touch tanks!

The very first activity upon arriving at class teaches students how to use a field journal and begin organizing their field research notes to form their own hypothesis and conclusions. Each class has a lecture phase and a corresponding field activity, allowing campers to develop a personal understanding and love for the world of natural sciences.

credit-annefmaben89Upon stepping off the boat, students are immediately surrounded in an the awe and beauty of one of California’s most cherished natural resources. The Channel Islands are only a short boat ride away from southern California coastal communities, but is so undeveloped and abundant in wildlife that it feels as if they have arrived to a distant and remote island paradise!

Emerald Bay is the most remote camp on the island and the furthest camp towards the west end. Which means campers staying here often see a lot of wild life, from deer to bison and the endemic Island Fox, found only on Catalina! Also frequently seen are bald and golden eagles, and a plethora of marine mammals, sea birds and other forms of both terrestrial and marine life.

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Marine Biology Science Camp at Emerald Bay, Catalina Island

Emerald Bay – The Most Prestigious Cove On Catalina Island

credit-AnneFMaben37Hidden away on the west end of Catalina Island is Emerald Bay, the most desired destination on the island for yachters, divers, campers and nature enthusiasts alike. Emerald Bay has a wide diversity of island terrain and ecosystems. The cove itself is protected by a small point and rocky reef, with a few tiny little islands in the middle of the cove giving boaters protection from the ocean surge. There are multiple small sandy beaches, which are estuaries and habitats for various marine birds and island wildlife.

The Boy Scout camp at Emerald Bay serves as MSA’s premiere location for conducting outdoor education science camps on Catalina Island. Every week hundreds of school groups from across the southland are ferried in by boat from across the channel. During their time at camp students experience a wide variety of marine science activities such as trawling for plankton and then observing their findings under high-powered microscopes, squid dissections, kayaking, snorkeling and more. Each student gets the chance to live as field biologist and conduct actual field science research at one of the most beautiful locations in California.

MSA’s Marine Biology Camp Program At Emerald Bay

281818_155722767838092_7562355_nEmerald Bay is an incredible place to come for marine biology camp, students often time see more ocean wildlife just on the ferry over than in their entire life time. While traveling across the channel, campers get to see sea lions, dolphins and often times even grey and blue whales. Once they arrive at camp students are first taught how to keep a field journal as well as how to implement the scientific method for developing a hypothesis during their camp activities. The field journal becomes a treasured part of their camp experience, allowing them to develop their ideas and experiences during each program activity. The value of learning to keep a field journal is immense, as it takes the ideals of science from an impersonal academic subject to a living breathing aspect of their every day lives which they can use to immerse themselves deeper and deeper in the natural world. Now campers have learned to see the world through the eyes of a marine biologist, and have gained an appreciation for the scientific method and how to implement it for their own investigations.

A Unique Island Experience At Two Harbors, Catalina

For those groups looking for a less rustic and remote camp experience, the nearby island village of Two Harbors, Catalina, is a perfect compromise allowing access to a restaurant, general store and other facilities. Two Harbors has a beautiful long natural sandy beach with multiple snorkeling destinations offering a wide diversity of the marine life of Catalina. Two Harbors is also home to USC’s Wrigley Marine Institute, which has salt-water aquariums and the oldest protected cove on the island. MSA’s special arrangement with USC allows students to visit their resources and facilities for a unique marine biology experience.

natural-history-hike-catalina-islandTwo Harbors is easily accessible by ferry and is one of the lesser known about treasures of Catalina Island. Conveniently located at the isthmus, the back side of the island is less than half a mile away! The cove on back-side of Two Harbors is called Catalina Cove, and is home to the largest mud flats ecosystem in the Channel Island. This is a great place to come study the benthic marine animals, birds, rays and skates, and other marine animals that live in this natural estuary.

Why Bring Your Class To Catalina Island Science Camp

Science camp at Catalina Island is one the most cherished educational experiences youth experience during their academic careers. The memories they make during their time at camp enriches their lives and stays with them forever. Many times we hear back from students whom have gone through one of our programs to learn that they were inspired to become marine biologists or other high science professionals. This kind of amazing feedback is what we live for at MSA!

There is definitely something magical about the time youth spend at Catalina Island science camp, where they are safe to just be a kid and discover the natural world around them and all it’s wonder and beauty. It’s not always easy to remember the various lessons learned at school, but the lessons and experiences had at science camp consistently remain one of the greatest highlights and inspirational moments ever have.

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Understanding The Threat To Californias Kelp Forests

Although not many residents of California are currently aware, there are major concerns regarding the vanishing kelp forests, which are one the most important marine ecosystems and habitats.

Giant kelp is a type of brown algae that grows above rocky reefs typically no more deep than ninety feet. Massive kelp beds form creating one of the most diverse marine ecosystems in the world.

California has already seen an 80% reduction in giant kelp forests in the last hundred years, one of the primary concerns for the kelp forests is the amount of contaminated storm water entering the oceans from the cities and carrying various pollutants along with it.

Warmer Ocean Water

One of the most well documented events concerning loss of kelp forest habitats was in San Diego County, when the nuclear generating station at San Onofre discharged heated water destroying over 150 acres of kelp forests.

Although many people accused the nuclear generating station of releasing toxic water, it was more than likely the sudden increase in warm water that caused the giant kelp to die off to rapidly.

Giant kelp thrives in cooler waters, which remain below 69 to 70 degrees. Another reason for the decline in kelp forests could be due to an increase in global ocean temperatures, however this would need to increase significantly to completely halt all growth.

Sea Otters And Kelp Forests

The loss of much of California’s kelp forests also coincides with another missing member of Calfiornia’s marine habitats, and that is the sea otter. Sea otters were almost hunted to extinction in California long before it was ever a state, but Californian’s have made great progress in bringing back this incredibly valuable part of the ocean’s health.

Sea otters maintain the health of kelp forests by keeping the populations of sea urchins and other invertebrates in balance. If left unmanaged, sea urchin populations can grow too large and destroy an entire kelp forest by eating away at their base.

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The Effort To Re Introduce Sea Otters To Southern California

Sea otters are one of California’s most loved and adorable marine mammals, their presence is greatly missed and great efforts are being put into action to help preserve and restore the once thriving sea otter populations along our coast.

A Brief History of Sea Otters in southern California

Sea_otter_pair2Sea otters were once wide spread along the entire coastal north Pacific, from Japan to Alaska, and all the way down the west coast of North America to Baja Mexico. In California alone, sea otter populations were believed to be around six-teen thousand individuals. Then in the 17th and 18th centuries Russian and Spanish fur traders began exploiting sea otters for their pelts, and hunted them to the brink of extinction.

By the beginning of the 20th century it was assumed that sea otters were extinct, until in 1938 a small group of sea otters were found still thriving in the hidden crevices of Big Sur, California. It was estimated that there were 50 individuals surviving in this area.

California began one of its greatest conservation efforts to protect and allow this small population to repopulate the California coast. Today the population of sea otters descended from this small group found eighty years ago has risen to just under 3,000 individuals!

Why are sea otters so important to California’s marine ecosystems?

ssSea otters are a keystone species, meaning they have a larger role in maintaining the health of their ecosystems than other species. Sea otters love to eat benthic (mud dwelling) marine invertebrates, their diet ranges from abalone to sea urchins, crabs, marine snails, worms, sea stars, sand dollars, octopus, squid and others. However, most individuals specialize in one area of the over all sea otter diet.

The most abundant habitat for many marine animals are the kelp forests that line California’s coast, and provide an abundant resource for much of California’s local marine life. In recent years we have seen a sharp decline in kelp forests, this has been occurring for several reasons, such as rising ocean temperatures, but it is also occurring because of the absence of the sea otters. Sea otters keep the sea urchin numbers in balance; otherwise sea urchins eat the base of the kelp plant and eradicate entire forests.

enhanced-22150-1406642497-1Sea otters can eat a lot of sea urchins! One interesting fact about this lovable, not to mention smallest (and therefore cutest!) member of the marine mammal family, is that they have extremely fast metabolisms because this allows them to release the amount of heat they need to stay warm in the frigid North Pacific waters. An average sea otter will eat 25% of its own body weight per day!

Sea otters are integral members of California’s marine ecosystems, without them entire habitats are lost and contribute to the decrease in bio diversity.

What are the primary threats to sea otters?

Although sea otters have made a huge comeback in the last hundred years, their road to complete recovery is far from over. There are still many threats to sea otters; among the greatest are threats from chemical pollution, food limitation, loss of habitat, and nutritional deficiencies.

California has made some huge mistakes regarding their treatment of sea otters. Although sea otters were listed as endangered in 1977, just nine years later sea otters were officially banned from the southern California coast at the behest of the fishing industries, which saw sea otters as a threat to their commercial exploits. This allowed sea otters in southern California to be unprotected from harassment and harm.

During this time, any sea otters found were trapped and relocated to San Nicholas island, where it was claimed they would ‘be free from the threats of oil spills’; however, this effort was a disaster as many individual sea otters were either harmed or died trying to find their way home.

Beginning in 2001 the Fish and Wildlife Service declared that they would no longer trap and relocate sea otters, allowing them to return to southern California and repopulate.

Regardless of the recent changes in attitude and concern for reintroducing sea otters, their numbers have not grown much since 2006, in fact in 2010 the US Geological Survey announced that numbers had declined for the second year in a row. However, the Californian people showed greater enthusiasm and expressed greater interest in helping this incredibly valuable species recover.

In 2011, Californian Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation re-establishing the main source of funding for sea otter conservation programs, such as the California Sea Otter Fund, and has raised more than $1.5 million dollars in the last five years (well over their goal!).

How Can Sea Otters Be Re Introduced?

sea-otter-urchin-buffetAlthough other populations of sea otters have showed encouraging signs of recovery, such as 17% to 20% per year in some areas, the California sea otters have progressed at a much slower rate, only 5% to 6% per year. This is due to a higher mortality rate from white shark attack, bacterial and viral infections, toxicity, poisoning, and various infectious diseases.

The various inorganic pollutants traveling with the runoff from human habitations is considered to be the primary threat causing the decreased life span and high mortality rate for Californian sea otters.

In order for southern California’s sea otters to return and live healthy long lives, the quality of the water will need to continue to improve. As more and more Californians see the personal and collective benefits to implementing environmentally friendly alternatives, there seems to be hope yet for creating the right conditions for the sea otters to live.

What You Can Do To Help!

Californians have shown great interest in helping the sea otter populations to recover, and in recent years we have begun to realize the vital role they play on maintaining the overall health of marine ecosystems, particularly the kelp forest.

It is now evident that saving the sea otters not only means preserving this adorable and unique individual species, but it also means saving the foundation of our marine habitats.

There is only so much we can expect our Federal, State and local governments and agencies to achieve for us. The real contribution must come from the way we each chose to live our lives. What we pour down the drains will end up being what the sea otters swim in. By using less chemical detergents and solvents, and choosing to buy environmentally safe house hold products, we can each do our part to make the planet a better place for each and every one of us!

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Keeping A Field Journal: How To Transform Your Students Into Scientists

In the process of developing an educated appreciation for science, students use their field journals to take the scientific method into their own hands and make it a very real part of their individual lives. In this way, the field journal serves as the vehicle for developing a personal appreciation and love for science.

credit-AnneFMaben59Developing A Personal Appreciation And Love For Science

The field journal becomes the instrument that students of science use to capture their insights and other thoughts while out in the field. They are then able to ponder and interpret what they are observing into their own theories and ideas about the natural world, developing one more testable hypothesis to bring their concepts into reality.

The whole scientific method becomes an adventurous process of heightening sensitivity and deepening the student’s awareness and experience of the environment they are researching. Soon the natural world reveals its splendor and wonder, captivating the student and peaking their interest. The field journal then becomes the intermediary between raw experience and scientific analysis.

The student quickly discovers that the most important research equipment they have is their own mind and the field journal. All other technology is only complimentary.

The Field Journal

credit-AnneFMaben8As soon as students arrive at one of Mountain and Sea Adventures (MSA) programs on Catalina Island or Big Bear they are immediately introduced to how to set up, organize and keep a field journal. It is always a joy for the MSA staff to see the transformation that happens between the first class, when students reluctantly participate in what they perceive to be ‘just another school class’, to when they turn in their journals at the end of their camp experience, sometimes frantically requesting the instructors to be sure to return their journals promptly!

The field journal is a valuable tool for seeing your thoughts develop and evolve over time. This further engages the student and inspires them to immerse themselves further in their research, with a greater awareness and appreciation for the utility of the field journal.

Personalizing Our Experiences

One of the most valuable aspects of the field journal is in the way it takes an impersonal class lecture and gives it a vehicle for personal application. Now the students can listen to each new lecture with deeper interest, knowing that they will be able to apply what has been taught to their own observations and experiences in the field. Learning is no longer second-hand and based on what has already been written in texts books, but becomes a living breathing component of their lives that they can translate into their own personal writings. From a hypothesis to a theory to a scientific law, the writing that takes place in the student’s field journal gradually evolves.

credit-AnneFMaben71A Catapult For The Imagination

Many students often mistakenly think that science is cold and analytical, when the truth is that good science provides a foundation for the creative faculties, such as imagination, to unravel and reveal the untold mysteries of the natural world.

In this way, science is much like any other art form. Just like with music or fine art, the instruments, brushes and other tools are only the catalyst for the creative expression of the mind. In the same way, a field biologist utilizes many forms of technology, yet considers the imagination to be the first and most important laboratory.

Bringing Imagination To Reality

Scientists are like big kids; both spend most of their time engaged in elaborate imagination. Science can be seen as the ultimate venue for the imagination, where it is empowered to express its fullest potential. However, one of the most exciting things of all is that science is not limited to the realm of mere fantasy; but is focused on bringing thought into the material plane of measurable application.

In this way, a field biologist is constantly updating their mental vision by testing various hypothesis and analyzing the results as they unfold in the field. Eventually the scientist first discovers the theory in their imagination before explaining it, and finally proving it in a controlled environment.

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Where Scientists Are Born: Marine Biology Youth Camp on Catalina Island

Marine Biology Youth Camp

Catalina Island is a magical destination and one of the most rich and abundant natural resources in California. When visiting Catalina Island, which is less than twenty miles off short Los Angeles, students have the opportunity to participate in a wide range to educational and adventurous marine biology activities, such as snorkeling at one of the most desirable locations in the world, kayaking, dissecting squid, trawling for plankton and then observing them beneath microscopes, hiking the various trails that surround the camp, and lots more!

While snorkeling students get to see Garibaldi, opaleye, kelp bass, leopard sharks, shovelnose guitarfish, as well as the occasional seal, sea lion and/or dolphin visit! On land students may seem several endemic species of birds and mammals such as the quail, ground squirrel and fox.

The Natural Beauty of Catalina Island

Catalina Island is seventy-four miles of ecological preserve, with some of the most breathtaking landscape in California. Marine biology youth camp at Catalina Island is a rare and extremely valuable opportunity to immerse your students in the unspoiled beauty of nature.

With forty-eight miles of coastline, Catalina Island has a seemingly endless variety of marine and terrestrial habitats. There is an abundant of plant and wildlife, which makes this an ideal location to impart a passion for learning natural science and use the scientific method to explore nature, and arrive at your own conclusions and theories.

Learning To Observe The World Like A Field Biologist

For those interested in marine biology, camp at Catalina Island is the perfect chance to develop that interest and ‘try out’ life as an actual marine biologist field scientist. Students learn to keep a field journal and are taught to observe the world around them through the eyes of a scientist.

This full immersion into natural sciences sparks a deep love and appreciation for marine biology, and many do end up going back home and pursuing an higher education academic goal.

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The Life Changing Impact of Environmental Science Youth Camp On Catalina Island

Just eighteen miles off the coast of Los Angeles lay Santa Catalina Island, one of the largest island nature reserves in the world. With over 74 square miles of breathtaking landscape, Catalina Island is one of the most valuable natural resources in California.

Mountain and Sea Adventures (MSA) has been running youth programs on the island since 1998, and continues to bring thousands of students from around the Southwest to Catalina Island every year. Spending time in this beautiful ecological preserve gives youth a personal first-hand experience of the natural world, and from there – a personal appreciation and love develops. If it is true that we only preserve what we love, then MSA’s program is instrumental in providing the very experiences which inspire that very love for the natural environment in their hearts.

The Splendid Natural Beauty and Wonder of Emerald Bay

MSA runs their program at one of the most desirable and ecological diverse coves on Catalina Island, Emerald Bay. The facilities are just as impressive as the scenic beauty both inside and outside the beautiful emerald colored water. Resources such as the Pennington Marine Science Center, which has a salt water aquarium with displays of all the major ecosystems surrounding Emerald Bay, as well as multiple touch tanks, microscope labs and classrooms.

Surrounding Emerald Bay is the natural beauty of the ecological reserve, maintained by the Catalina Island Conservancy, with endless scenic views of untouched island coastline, rolling chaparral hills, and an abundance of wildlife such as Catalina Island Fox (endemic only to this island), mule deer, bison, and a wide variety of marine and terrestrial birds, including bald and golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, ravens, and rare migratory birds that travel thousands of miles such as arctic terns.

Why Children Love Environmental Science

One of the reasons Catalina Island is such a popular and desirable location to take groups and classes for the camp experience is because it is just remote enough to feel like they have left the country (kids often times think this!), but yet they are still in a safe, protected and well-connected, yet rustic location.

Camp is a safe place where students can let their guard down and just ‘be kids’. They are free to play and discover how fun and exciting the world of natural science really is! Camp program is always an adventure, and the line between ‘academic’ and ‘recreational’ time becomes less and less clear. That is because learning is fun, and all it takes is placing children in the right conditions for that realization to take place for them.

Outdoor Education Imparts A Love For The Natural Environment

When ‘play time’ becomes ‘learning time’, and vice versa, students are ready to apply themselves and participate in the outdoor educational program activities with greater interest and enjoyment, and therefore gain much more from it. With this total interest, students are immersed into their environment, and with the tools given to them during the lecture phase by their instructor – they are able to observe and interact with their surroundings like true field biologists.

Such full immersion into the awe-inspiring beauty of an ecological preserve like Catalina Island imparts the type of appreciation and love for the environment that transforms the student’s perspective for life.

Outdoor education is unique in its capacity to ignite a love for the environment, not only do students immerse themselves in the great outdoors through the activities, but they are taught valuable information regarding the various animals they may encounter, as well as a method for observing, recording data and studying them.

Students are both fully immersed and fully attentive, learning to observe their environment like field scientists. They then take their observations back to their outdoor classroom and develop testable hypothesis. In this way, the scientific method becomes a tool for taking their personal immersion into the natural world deeper and deeper.

Protecting What We Love

With such a rich personal experience of the natural world, students are often moved towards increasing their efforts to be more environmentally conscious and friendly. Those experiences at camp become deeply cherished memories, resulting in a deep love for these preserved places in nature. The vital importance of conserving them becomes increasingly more apparent.

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5 Fun And Incredible Facts About Dolphins!

Dolphins are among natures most beautiful and intelligent animals. Humans have always seemed to have a kindred connection with dolphins, and they also seem to take a keen interest in us, as well.

Here are five fun and incredible facts about our playful cetacean friends!

#1) Culture and Social Structure

Dolphins are extremely smart animals that also display social structure and culture, something that was long believed to be unique only to human beings. Pods are matriarchal, with the eldest grandmother being the head of the pod.

Dolphin pods can be told apart from each other by learning to detect small nuances in their clicks and whistles, which is a part of their communication patterns. These nuances are similar to accents in human beings, and display that dolphins have a similar aspect to their own ‘language’.

#2) Dolphins Use Tools for Hunting!

Dolphins have been seen teaching their young how to use tools, such as sponges, which they cover their sensitive snouts with to protect them while foraging for food.

#3) A Dolphin Language!

Dolphins have developed many highly evolved forms of communication. They use what is known as a “signature whistle” that allows each individual to recognize each other.

#4) Dolphins are Compassionate and Altruistic Animals!

Dolphins have been known to help and rescue injured humans in their greatest hour of distress. They have also been known to help other injured and weak dolphins to the surface to breath. Their compassion is not limited only to other dolphins. There are many examples of times when dolphins have helped humans and even whales.

#5) Dolphins Love To Play And Goof Off!

Dolphins have always been known to be extremely fun-loving, playful and even curious animals. They often times play-fight with each other and also play games with seaweed. Dolphins even love to play with other animals such as dogs.

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The Facts About Human Impact On Coral Reefs

Anthropogenic Factors Causing Harm to Coral Reefs

Coral reefs are known to be home to most of the world’s fish species, with these being known as hotspots of biodiversity. On top of that, both reef-living fish and most pelagic, open-ocean fish spawn in coral reefs, becoming the prime source of the fishing industry. Coral reefs also fixate dissolved nitrogen, making it accessible in the marine food chain, and ultimately contributed to fish biomass that the fishing industry hungrily seeks. However, not all of human efforts contribute to the benefit if the coral reefs, despite it being a vital aspect of our economy and biology. Besides the obvious effects of pollution, here are some of the anthropogenic activities that directly and indirectly detriment the world’s coral reefs.

Destructive Fishing Practices

These are the anthropogenic acts that directly cause physical damage to coral reefs as a means for a greater catch. These include, but are not limited to, bottom trawling and the use of explosives.

Bottom Trawling

Bottom trawling involves the dragging of heavily weighted nets on the ocean floor, indiscriminately raking benthic organisms, including age-old and slow-growing corals. Larger fishing vessels employ this method to efficiently and effectively catch large amounts of fish in as little time and concern for the environment as possible. Naturally, this method is unsustainable, as fish would lose their spawning sites and habitat faster than it would regrow, effectively inhibiting the repopulation of the fish of the area.

Usage of Explosives

Explosives are used in small to medium-scale fishing, as these methods are less efficient than bottom trawling, but does not require the use of large fishing vessels. Explosives are primarily used to cause shockwaves aimed at destroying the calcareous structure of corals, and secondarily to destroy the fishes’ swim bladders. These two added results would then give these reckless fishermen an easy catch.

Side-Effects of Industry

Does the term “agricultural runoff” sound familiar? Chemical compounds used in agriculture, such as fertilizers and pesticides, are “run off” to sea, as an accident or an intentional endeavor to use the world’s oceans as a waste pond. These chemical compounds foreign to the coral reef ecosystem cause disruption by either the killing off or causing the uncontrollable growth of certain organisms. As such, the natural nutrient cycle is disrupted, or the overriding of algae causes the stifling of resources for other organisms.

Introduction of Chemical Compounds that Directly Cause Mortality

Let us first provide examples of the effects of introducing large amounts of foreign chemical compounds to the coral reefs that immediately lead to death of certain organisms. For example, a farmer’s waste pond full of herbicide overflowed due to excessive torrential rains, and drained to a nearby river, which eventually led to the ocean. The large amounts of would immediately cause the death of phytoplankton and sea grass communities. Oil spills will cause the reduction of light reaching the benthos, stifling the corals’ zooxanthellae of their and their host’s means to survive, grow, and reproduce.

Eutrophication

Now, we illustrate the effects of the introduction of large amounts of nutrients to coral reef waters, which is also known as “nutrient loading”. First, we consider that algae are competitors of corals in substrate and light. Also, algae grow and multiply at a much faster rate than corals. Why don’t algae naturally dominate coral reefs? It is because coral reefs are low-nutrient environments. Now, the introduction of nutrients to these coral reefs would then cause the rise of the biomass of algae in the area, which is also known as “algal bloom”, which subsequently stifles the resources needed by corals, leading to the reduction in the population of corals and all other organisms depending on them, and ultimately leading to the phase shift of the community.

Sediment

The increase in the amount of sediments suspended in the water column will trigger corals to secrete mucus in order to rid themselves of sediment. However, the corals will use up valuable energy in doing so, making them more vulnerable to disease and would slow their growth. Also, in the even of the coral not secrete enough mucus to get the sediment off fast enough, then the light going down the water column will be again restricted, yet another stress for the corals. Lastly, sediment will smother the coral, and will prevent the entry of the suspended particles corals do need to survive; food.

The increased amount of suspended sediment in the water column may be attributed to natural causes, wherein sediment upwelled by water currents as a natural part of reef ecology and healthily adds optimal amounts of nutrients to the reef, and by anthropological activities, which usually leads to the negative effects mentioned above. This may include the activities that, as a side-effect, causes nearby land to be more vulnerable to erosion, such as deforestation and mangrove-cutting and the activities that directly add sediment to the waters, such as the dumping of land from construction projects.

 

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