October 27, 2008 - Earthwatch scientists Dr. Dave Smith (Coral and Coastal Ecology of the Seychelles) and Dr. Dave Suggett from Essex University have discovered a coral reef in the Seychelles off Curieuse Island, as part of research project funded by Mitsubishi Corporation.
The island, which is managed by the Seychelles Centre of Marine Research and Technology-Marine Protected Areas (SCMRT-MPA), is home to more than 200 giant tortoises but no coral reefs were believed to exist.
Earthwatch scientists have evidence that the new reef supports a large number of mega-fauna. It also shows signs of destruction and partial recovery from the 2004 tsunami.
The research project is conducting experiments to test the ability of various species to tolerate climate change, in the hope that findings may help to predict the fate of coral reefs and inform conservation plans. The results have already prompted local authorities to establish a center of marine field-based research on the island.
Dr Smith says, "Our studies demonstrate that there are clear physiological differences between tolerant and sensitive species. This will change the way we design future experiments to predict the fate of coral reefs faced with climate change."
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The mission of the Earthwatch Institute is to engage people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment. In 2008, Earthwatch will sponsor 130 research projects in more than 40 countries and 20 US states, making estimated volunteer field grants of $5 million. Since its founding in 1971, the organization has supported nearly 1,350 projects in 120 countries and 35 states. More than 90,000 volunteers have contributed $67 million and 11 million hours to scientific fieldwork.