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May 06, 2017
Under the Sea: Dreaming of Healthy Reefs
Colorful corals have taken hundreds and thousands of years to grow. They occur all over our little blue planet's ocean. There are millions of species that live in and around coral reefs with many undiscovered reef dwellers yet to be named. Snorkeling or diving among coral reefs is one of the great pleasures of life. Encountering creatures that live among the corals is a thrilling experience, especially if they decide to interact with you. We do not yet understand the level of intelligence of our ocean-dwelling friends, yet we get an inkling when they show themselves to us.
Coral reefs are important to the lives of everyone on the planet. As nurseries for a quarter of the oceans' fish, coral reefs are an incredible source of food for humans and animals. They protect our shorelines from from erosion by buffeting breaking waves. Species that live among coral reefs have given us medical advances against diseases. Those who depend on tourism for their livelihood have utilized coral reefs in the business of recreation for millions of adventurous travelers every year. Coral reefs are crucial in the lives of all of us, for we are connected to the sea like sand to a beach.
Why am I dreaming of healthy reefs? Due to pollution, climate change, and other reasons, large portions of the earth's coral reefs are dying off at an alarming rate. A slight change of just 1° C higher than the summer maximum in ocean temperature can cause bleaching of a coral reef. Add in overfishing and human activities and you can see why we need to become aware of the health of our ocean and our reefs.
On the plus side, there are reef-loving people around the planet that are taking matters into their own hands. In coastal areas all over the planet, people like you and I are planting coral gardens. There are several techniques used by coral gardeners who are continually experimenting and increasing their successes. One of these dedicated gardeners lives on the island of Taveuni in Fiji and is spreading the joy of coral gardening to her guests who stay at her sweet little resort, Makaira. Roberta and John, originally from Hawaii where they have been covered in sea water much more often than most, have created an oasis on their little spot of paradise. The beautiful reef and coral garden is just down a short path to the sea. If you would like to participate in coral gardening in a tropical paradise, this is an amazing place to do it.
This painting is of a spot that is very special to me. I spent many years swimming, snorkeling and surfing here, finding solace and solitude among the corals and fishes. My kids and their closest friends learned to surf here and journeyed over reefs with me to swim with the turtles. Within the last few years, coral bleaching has changed this area drastically. The inside reef is covered with algae and the turtles are nowhere to be seen. I wanted to paint the reef as I remembered it, healthy and full of life. I dream of seeing it this way again. Will you dream along with me?
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