This just in, Mission Blue has declared a Caribbean coral reef and a remote atoll in the Pacific as two new hope spots and subjects for special attention from the world’s ocean community. Varadero’s coral reef is located in Colombia’s Bay of Cartagena and is home to a diversity of coral cover that is now threatened by dredging for a new shipping lane and deteriorating water quality. Palymira atoll is a remote group of tiny islands south of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean.
Varadero Coral Reef Threatened
“New Hope Spots not only recognize pristine marine environments worth preserving, but also important marine ecosystems that have borne the brunt of human pressures, yet still have a chance of rebounding” declared Dr. Sylvia Earle. “It is cause for hope that the people of Cartagena are coming together in support of the Varadero’s Reef Hope Spot. So, should we race to see how quickly we can develop the Bay of Cartagena? Or race to see what can be done to protect what remains? For now, there is still a choice.” (photo – Salvemos Varadero)
“Varadero’s Reef is perhaps the only living, surviving and real ecosystem that we still have in the now polluted bay of Cartagena, and that many Cartagena citizens and Colombians don’t know anything of its existence” said Bladimir Basabe. “We do not oppose development, as long as it is planned intelligently and without sacrificing a reef that is both a guarantee of food security for local communities and a valuable scientific case study. Let’s defend it and protect it for all of mankind!”
Pristine Palmyra Atoll, Joins Hope Spots in the Pacific
Dr. Sylvia Earle and Mission Blue also declared the remote Palmyra Atoll a “Hope Spot” while attending the EarthX Conference in Dallas, Texas last week. The Palmyra atoll is located in the Pacific Ocean 1,000 miles south of the Hawaiian Islands and is part of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, established by President George W. Bush in 2006. Palmyra is managed as an international research station and wildlife refuge by the Nature Conservancy, NOAA and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“Palmyra’s spectacular marine environment is a reminder of what our coral reefs should look like,” said Dr. Sylvia Earle, founder of Mission Blue. “Its remote Pacific location, its history of wildlife recovery and restoration, and the level of protection as a national wildlife refuge and marine national monument it receives make it ideal for scientific study and a beacon of hope for coral reefs everywhere.” (photo – Dr. Sylvia Earle by Bryce Groark)
The atoll is made up of 26 islets over an area of 680 acres. It is a sanctuary for the coconut crab, the world’s largest land invertebrate and a breeding habitat for 10 species of seabird.
Palmyra Atoll captured in 360 virtual video
Dr. Earle was a keynote speaker at EarthX and used the opportunity to present a new 360-degree virtual reality video on Palmyra.
“The power of 360-degree Virtual Reality enables us to share the beauty and richness of Palmyra from any device, anytime, anywhere,” said Michael Tosatto, NOAA Fisheries Regional Administrator. “It captures the magnificence of this underwater world and the need to protect it.”
“You don’t have to be a scuba-diver or even know how to swim to explore and experience the underwater world of one of the most remote atolls on earth. Through our immersive Virtual Reality imagery people can now realize how important it is to protect this precious jewel of the Pacific” added Christophe Bailhache co-founder of The Ocean Agency and Seaview 360, producers of the video.
With the addition of these two new hope spots the ocean gets a bit better. keep up the great work Dr. Earle. “Your Deepness.”
By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
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