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. 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.

Ocean Atlas, the world’s largest underwater sculpture sits at the heart of BREEF’s Coral Reef Sculpture Garden (Photo by Lili Wagner)

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.

Close-up of bleached coral at CRSG (Photo by Michael Freifelds)

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.

Ocean Atlas, the world’s largest underwater sculpture sits at the heart of BREEF’s Coral Reef Sculpture Garden (Photo by Lili Wagner)

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.

Virtuoso Man sculpture at CRSG (Photo by Shane Gross)

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.

Outplanted coral at the BREEF Coral Reef Sculpture Garden (photo by Shane Gross)

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.

BREEF’s Coral Reef Sculpture Garden & Coral Nursery is an underwater classroom, used to teach thousands of students about the marine environment 

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.

BREEF coral nursery at  Coral Reef Sculpture Garden (Photo by Shane Gross)

A Call to Action
As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of Ocean Atlas, we reflect on our progress and renew our commitment to protecting our ocean. This milestone is an opportunity to inspire collective action against climate change and to continue supporting BREEF’s marine conservation and education initiatives.
Join BREEF in celebrating this remarkable achievement and in taking action to protect our marine ecosystems. Visit our website to learn more about supporting BREEF’s mission.

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