The California Academy of Sciences has announced investments totaling $8.5 million in support of efforts to reverse the degradation and potential collapse of coral reefs around the world.
The investment constitutes the first phase of a new initiative that will include about twenty expeditions to remote and unknown reefs. With funding from the William K. Bowes, Jr. Foundation, Eva and Bill Price, Diana Nelson and John C. Atwater, the Dalio Ocean Initiative, Jennifer Caldwell and John H.N. Fisher, Charlotte and Nick Giovanni, the Hellman Foundation, and Laura and Peter Fenton, the academy will add two experts as curators and launch museum exhibits and educational programs designed to share research findings with the public.
According to the academy, nearly 75 percent of the world's coral reefs are threatened by the impacts of overfishing, habitat destruction, water pollution, climate change, and ocean acidification. The academy plans to explore unknown mesophotic reef frontiers — reef ecosystems that exist in low-light environments — and implementing novel approaches to coral restoration.
"The impacts of climate change and ocean acidification are systemic, global-scale challenges. And solving these issues will require new approaches," said Luiz Rocha, academy curator and co-leader of the initiative with Steinhart Aquarium director Bart Shepherd. "The academy is gathering the sharpest minds and greatest outreach tools to help shift the coral reef story from tragedy to hope," said Rocha. "We know that it takes concerned citizens, policy makers, global leaders, and passionate scientists...to move the needle."