Moncreiff Jones Society: Coral Reef Lecture

Moncreiff Jones Society: Coral Reef Lecture

On Monday 26 February, the Moncreiff-Jones Society held the second lecture of their jubilee year, this time on the topic of coral reefs. It was an honour that the founder of the half-century-old society, Mr John Jones himself, attended the talk.

The speaker was the amazing Max Bodmer, a marine ecologist, who was the lecturer and one of the guides that led and taught the Honduras expedition team during the marine section of the trip at Roatan Island. Mr Bodmer works for Operation Wallacea, and focuses on carrying out studies off the Honduran coast looking into the restoration of sea urchin populations in the Caribbean Sea, and aid the increase of coral cover in the process. He is looking into what effect the installation of breeze block artificial reefs will have an affordable technique for many of the Caribbean countries.

Max spoke on his field of expertise, focusing on topics ranging from what corals actually are as well as the algal threat to reefs and its causes and observed effects. He presented many amazing and weird organisms that live in such ecosystems, such as the Parrot Fish and the ability of female individuals to change sex and become a male fish in order to establish dominance and replace the previous male.  The fish also has peculiar reproduction tactics – involving sneaky beta-male fish secretly inseminating the eggs, while alpha males are competing against each other to win the battle of who will get to reproduce. Mr Bodmer also spoke about how and why the invasive Caribbean Lion Fish threatens many of the organisms in the Caribbean reefs.

A main focus of Mr Bodmer’s talk was how coral reefs are threatened by modern day human activities and therefore why there is an incredibly big decline and loss of coral reef cover globally at an alarming rate, a grim reminder to all the audience. In the talk, small-scale threats such as coral mining in the Maldives for building materials along with bomb and cyanide fishing were mentioned, as well as the more global threats such as rise in sea levels, temperature and acidity, which all go hand in hand with global warming. Subsequently he explained what can be done by humans to conserve and stop the drastic decline in coral reef health and cover. There was a glimmer of hope presented by Mr Bodmer showing how the more small scale threats can be easily negated and how it is already being done; however for the global threats, he clearly stated that to improve the situation we would need immediate and drastic measures globally, and that such actions will be immensely challenging – including humans stopping the use of cars, something almost no-one on today’s society can imagine. He emphasised how serious this destruction is and how immediate the need for action to save coral reefs is, and that we still have a long way to go in order to ensure these beautiful ecosystems still exist a hundred years from now.

After the talk, there was a prolonged question session, when both parents and pupils asked detailed questions about the creatures, the research that Mr Bodmer does and the different solutions to conserve reefs.

Kamen Kyutchukov – President, Moncrieff-Jones Society

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