Public Release: 

Leading coral scientists to convene in a coordinated effort to save coral reefs

California Academy of Sciences

From December 9 - 14, 2018, dozens of the world's top coral reef experts will convene in Florida in an urgent, coordinated effort to help struggling reefs around the world survive the myriad threats they currently face. "Reef Futures 2018: A Coral Restoration and Intervention-Science Symposium" will bring together experts from around the world to share the latest science and techniques for coral reef restoration while kicking off a global effort to dramatically scale-up the impact and reach of restoration as a major tool for coral reef conservation and management.

In 1998, scientists documented the first mass coral bleaching event--a response to the warm waters of an El Niño year that killed 16 percent of the world's corals. Since then, two more global bleaching events have occurred: one in 2010 and another, by far the worst yet, that lasted from 2014 to 2017 and impacted 70 percent of the world's coral reefs. While all three events have been associated with El Niño conditions, these notorious climatic cycles aren't solely to blame for the bleaching. Before 1998, El Niño years didn't raise ocean temperatures enough to trigger large-scale bleaching. However, as global climate change increases base ocean temperatures--and as reef systems are weakened by local threats like overfishing, pollution, disease, and sedimentation--El Niño events are taking an increasingly heavy toll.

However, many coral scientists have found reason to hope that it's not too late to save our planet's coral reefs. The Reef Futures organizers, including Dr. Rebecca Albright, a co-leader of the Hope for Reefs initiative at the California Academy of Sciences, recognize that for any reef conservation efforts to be effective, the lines of communication must stay open and inclusive for stakeholders, policy makers, and practitioners. To accomplish this, the Symposium will be organized around these central themes and include input and expertise from around the globe.

The five themes of the Symposium are:

  • The Role of Restoration in Reef Management and Conservation
  • Restoration Operations: best practices, techniques, and tools for scaling-up
  • Restoration and Interventions in the Context of a Changing Planet
  • Demonstrating the Value and Efficacy of Restoration and Interventions
  • Restoration Vignettes: people taking restoration action around the world

The program will serve as a global stage for the exchange of science, practical information, and ideas about the role of restoration in helping provide a better future for coral reefs. It will include presentations from scientists at SECORE about their recent successes in assisted sexual reproduction (as detailed in this recent bioGraphic story: and their plans to plant a million new coral colonies on struggling reefs by 2021. Additionally, Raphael Ritson-Williams from the California Academy of Sciences will present new data about the types of coralline algae that coral larvae prefer to settle near--as well as the types of algae that inhibit their growth.


About Research at the California Academy of Sciences

The Institute for Biodiversity Science and Sustainability at the California Academy of Sciences is at the forefront of efforts to understand two of the most important topics of our time: the nature and sustainability of life on Earth. Based in San Francisco, the Institute is home to more than 100 world-class scientists, state-of-the-art facilities, and nearly 46 million scientific specimens from around the world. The Institute also leverages the expertise and efforts of more than 100 international Associates and 400 distinguished Fellows. Through expeditions around the globe, investigations in the lab, and analysis of vast biological datasets, the Institute's scientists work to understand the evolution and interconnectedness of organisms and ecosystems, the threats they face around the world, and the most effective strategies for sustaining them into the future. Through innovative partnerships and public engagement initiatives, they also guide critical sustainability and conservation decisions worldwide, inspire and mentor the next generation of scientists, and foster responsible stewardship of our planet.

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