Celebrating the seas
Friday 6 June 2008
As 2008 is International Year of the Reef and this Sunday is World Ocean Day, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to tell you more about ZSL’s work to help protect and conserve marine and freshwater wildlife.
Since it was first proposed in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, an increasing number of countries are starting to mark 8 June each year as World Ocean Day, an opportunity to celebrate our oceans and seas.
The ICRI International Year of the Reef 2008 is a worldwide campaign to raise awareness about the value and importance of coral reefs. It aims to highlight the threats to their sustainability and to motivate people to take action to protect them.
Aquatic ecosystems cover approximately 70 per cent of the earth’s surface and are essential for supporting life on our planet, however they are faced with increasing threats.
ZSL is currently working with local communities and partner organizations on a variety of marine and freshwater conservation programmes, both within the UK and around the world. Here are just a few of them:
Coral Reef Surveying and Turtle Tagging in Mozambique
Cabo Delgado in northern Mozambique is one of the last places along the East African Coast where marine habitats remain largely unexplored and unspoilt.
There ZSL works in partnership with Maluane, the Cabo Delgado Biodiversity and Tourism Project, to conserve the exceptionally healthy Vamizi reef; establish sustainable fisheries and to protect and monitor the endangered green and hawksbill turtles.
It is believed that the proximity to cool, deep water and fast flowing currents protects the reef from bleaching events that threaten the corals of the Indian Ocean, making the coral reefs of Vamizi even more important to conserve as a source of new coral colonies in the future. Reefs such as these are now recognised as very high on the list of conservation priorities and we need to investigate further and monitor this closely.
Turtles as well as many other marine creatures rely on reef systems for food and shelter. The project has also protected over 600 turtle nests and has mapped the movements of many turtles including Kiki, the green sea turtle .
Coral research in Chagos
The Chagos archipelago are home to some of the most pristine coral reefs in the world, however a huge bleaching event in 1998 wiped out almost 90% of the coral population.
ZSL has long been active in the conservation of the archipelago, with ZSL staff playing a key role in disease analysis.
Pink Sea Fan husbandry
Did you know we have corals right here in the UK? In ZSL London Zoo's Aquarium you can find examples of Pink Sea Fans, one of the UK’s most spectacular soft corals and considered a priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.
Natural England has funded ZSL, in partnership with The Deep, Hull, to research life history factors such as diet, growth rates, water chemistry preferences and sexual reproduction of the pink sea fans, which is not always possible in the wild.
Project Seahorse was co-founded by ZSL in 1996 in response to the destructive, global seahorse fishery.
ZSL, as a partner of Project Seahorse, has helped establish over 30 no-take Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in conjunction with local communities and government in the Danajon Bank reef complex of northern Bohol, Philippines, protecting the coral reefs and sea grass beds. In 2007, the Handuman MPA was voted the best community managed Marine Protected Area in the Philippines.