A "citizen science" consisting in observing the state of the health of the corals and coral bleaching along the way of the expedition and collecting datas about this worldwide phenomenon caused by global warming
From Australia onward ,The Ocean Mapping Expedition opened up a new field of research into the problems affecting the coral reefs in the spring of 2017. In partnership with CoralWatch, a citizen science project of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, the Fleur de Passion team is observing the state of health of the corals along its route. Using a plastic card showing colour gradations, the expedition's divers and snorkelers determine whether a coral is in good health (darkest colour) or if bleaching is under way; the information is recorded on a datasheet, which in turn feeds into a database covering 77 countries.
For several years now, global warming has been causing repeated episodes of coral bleaching, which have killed off huge swathes of the Great Barrier Reef, mainly in its northern section, as well as corals in other parts of the world. As a result of rising water temperature, the corals – which are animals of the polyp family – expel their symbiotic micro-algae which give them their colour and even more importantly the nutrients they need to grow their hard exoskeletons. This is what causes bleaching.
At this stage, however, the corals can still overcome this stress and recover their symbiotic algae – and their colour – provided there is a drop in water temperature in a few weeks' time. Failing this they will simply die.
The CoralWatch database generates alerts that make it possible temporarily to restrict access to a nature reserve, for example. But the main issue remains global warming.
Prof Justin Marshall du Groupe de neurobiologie sensorielle à l’Université du Queensland et chef de projet à CoralWatch
The Great Barrier Reef continues to face a barrage of threats. More than ever the reef requires support by international government, industry, science and the community. Citizen Science is recognized as an effective way to bolster information flow between these sectors
The visit to Australia of the Fleur de Passion and the Fondation Pacifique and our developing cooperative relationship could not come at a better time. CoralWatch is looking forward to working with the crew, visiting scientists and guests aboard the Fleur de Passion to gather information on reef health but also to help the global community preserve reef systems for our children
The Fondation Pacifique clearly has the same values at heart and provides a superb opportunity to reach large areas of reef in Australia and around the world, otherwise hard to reach
To read more on CoralWatch: www.coralwatch.org