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Embracing Summer Amidst the Reality of Global Warming: A Call to Action The Coral Bleaching Crisis 

Last summer, coral reefs experienced mass coral bleaching due to record-breaking ocean temperatures.

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The Coral Bleaching Crisis

Last summer, coral reefs experienced mass coral bleaching due to record-breaking ocean temperatures. The corals growing on “Ocean Atlas,” the focal sculpture of the BREEF Coral Reef Sculpture Garden & Coral Nursery, bleached dramatically, and many corals died as a result of the underwater heatwave. Bleached corals, and mortality resulting from this bleaching, was observed around the country and around the world. As we head into the summer of 2024, it is expected to be even warmer, following spring months that broke all previous heat records.

As the oceans warm due to increased carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, coral bleaching occurs. Corals, stressed by elevated temperatures, expel the algae living in their tissues that provide them with nutrition and colour. If the stress continues, corals can die. This bleaching event highlights the broader crisis facing coral reefs globally. May 2024 was already warmer than May 2023, and the summer of 2024 looks like it will be even hotter.

Celebrating 10 Years of Ocean Atlas

This year, BREEF proudly marks the 10th anniversary of Ocean Atlas at the Coral Reef Sculpture Garden (CRSG) in New Providence, Bahamas. As an artificial reef for marine life to colonize and inhabit, Ocean Atlas is an active symbol of hope in the fight against climate change. This milestone celebrates both visionary environmental art and crucial marine conservation efforts while highlighting the urgent need to address climate change affecting our coral reefs.

In 2014, BREEF unveiled Ocean Atlas, the world’s largest underwater sculpture. The 18-foot, 60-ton sculpture, created by artist Jason de Caires Taylor, symbolises the responsibility we all share in protecting marine environments. Ocean Atlas has become an iconic feature, drawing locals and visitors and serving as a powerful call to action for conservation.

National Oceans Protection Week Proclamation

In conjunction with these efforts, Prime Minister Philip E. Davis has renewed the “National Ocean Protection Week” proclamation, emphasising the nation’s dedication to marine conservation. This proclamation, spanning June 3rd to June 8th, 2024, aligns with World Oceans Day and highlights the critical importance of safeguarding our marine ecosystems. The proclamation underscores the collective responsibility to protect our oceans, reinforcing the vital work of organisations like BREEF in preserving the natural treasures of The Bahamas.

Education and Conservation at CRSG

More than a visual marvel, the CRSG is a thriving underwater classroom and coral nursery. Over the past decade, BREEF has used this underwater wonder to educate thousands of Bahamian children about marine conservation through snorkelling and hands-on learning. BREEF also encourages visitors to come and learn and get involved. The sculptures, now encrusted with live corals, provide habitat for marine life and serve as a living laboratory for students and scientists.

Restoration Efforts and Community Action

BREEF’s CRSG is a beacon of hope and a platform for raising awareness about climate change. By showcasing the impacts of coral bleaching, BREEF aims to mobilizse individuals and communities to advocate for sustainable practices and policies.

The CRSG also plays a critical role in coral restoration. BREEF’s coral nursery focuses on growing endangered coral and outplanting it to adjacent reefs. Since 2016, over 300 corals have been out-planted, boosting the area’s biodiversity and coral cover. Despite rising temperatures, these efforts demonstrate that resilience in coral reefs is possible with targeted interventions.

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