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Marine Life & Conservation

Reef-World’s 2023 Impact Report — Driving Sustainable Marine Tourism Amidst Global Challenges

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Reef-World

Reef-World has expanded its impact, welcomed new team members, and embraced growth while prioritising employee well-being

The Reef-World Foundation — the leading voice in sustainable marine tourism and the international coordinator of the UN Environment Programme’s Green Fins initiative —released its Impact Report for 2022 – 2023, outlining a year of significant achievements, innovative initiatives and groundbreaking collaboration.

In a year marked by global challenges, The Reef-World Foundation has been resilient and continued to excel in its mission to protect and conserve coral reefs and related ecosystems. The organisation has expanded its impact, welcomed new team members and embraced the opportunity for growth, all while remaining dedicated to the well-being of its employees.

Chair of The Reef-World Foundation, Vic Hancock Fell, said, “The past year has been both challenging and transformative. We’ve embraced new faces and a culture of care, further igniting our passion for safeguarding coral reefs and our natural world. We’ve redefined our strategic objectives to drive immediate, collective action in the marine tourism industry.”

Impact Report Highlights

  • Our Programmes: Green Fins, Reef-World’s flagship program, continues to set environmental industry standards and has made significant strides in protecting coral reefs globally. The Green Fins network now covers over 60 countries, an expansion from 14 in the previous year! Through the Youth Ambassador Programme, 2,432 students in the Dominican Republic are educated about marine ecology, creating Youth Ambassadors for reef protection.
  • Sustainability Targets: Reef-World diligently works toward achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a particular focus on SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and SDG 14 (Life Below Water).
  • Impactful Partnerships: In partnership with Reef-World, PADI established Eco Centers to recognise continuous conservation commitments. Reef-World’s supported survey, featuring partners like PADI, RAID, PSS, and ZuBlu, garnered 2,400 responses from April to June 2022, uncovering evolving travel trends and sustainability’s growing role in post-COVID-19 tourism.
  • Expanding Communications: Reef-World’s refined approach amplifies its global message of sustainable marine tourism through increased social media engagement, press coverage, and a reformed communications strategy.
  • Diversity and Inclusion: Reef-World’s commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion is reflected in its core values, culture of care and workforce capacity-building.

In the face of pressing climate change impacts, the need for immediate climate action is undeniable. The Reef-World Foundation has set the stage for a future where marine tourism will champion sustainable practices as the norm, offering solutions and hope for the world’s coral reefs.

Looking Forward

As Reef-World continues to grow and innovate, it remains committed to promoting environmental conservation and employee well-being. The organisation’s dedication to a Culture of Care and its efforts in fostering Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) set a shining example for the marine conservation sector and beyond.

“The launch of Green Fins Hub is positively a dream come true for us all, seeing the fruits of our labour over the years, and this is only the beginning. There is lots more work to be done, and now Reef-World has stronger foundations upon which to build, the only way is onwards and upwards,” said JJ Harvey, Operations Director at the Reef-World Foundation.

Reef-World

The Reef-World Foundation is immensely grateful for the continued support of its grant funders: UN Environment Programme, IDB Lab, The Matthew Good Foundation, Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority and GIZ (German development agency) in Jordan.

Reef-World would also like to express its gratitude to international partners whose vital support has resulted in significant tangible benefits for our work and mission: PADI; Professional SCUBA Schools International (PSS); Explorer Ventures; 1% for the Planet; ZuBlu; Snorkel Venture, GSTC; Dive O’Clock; WildSocks, Charitable Travel and Seven Dragons, without whom these achievements would not be possible.

Reef-World

Find the full 2022–2023 Impact Report on Reef-World’s website.

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The life of a Great White Shark

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Great White Shark

The great white shark, known scientifically as Carcharodon carcharias, embodies the apex predator of the ocean. This majestic creature’s life is a testament to survival, adaptability, and the intricate balance of the marine ecosystem.

Born in the waters off coastal regions, a great white shark begins its life as a pup within the safety of nurseries, typically found in warm, shallow waters. The pups, measuring around 5 feet in length at birth, are immediately equipped with an innate instinct for survival.

Great White Shark

As they grow, great whites embark on a journey, venturing into deeper and cooler waters, often covering vast distances across the ocean. These apex predators are perfectly adapted hunters, relying on their impressive senses to detect prey. Their acute sense of smell, aided by specialized sensory organs known as ampullae of Lorenzini, helps detect the faintest traces of blood in the water from several miles away.

Feeding primarily on seals, sea lions, and other marine mammals, great whites are known for their powerful jaws lined with rows of razor-sharp teeth. Their hunting techniques often involve stealth, utilizing their streamlined bodies to approach prey from below and striking with incredible speed and force.

Great White Shark

Despite their fearsome reputation, great whites play a crucial role in maintaining the health of marine ecosystems. As top predators, they help regulate the population of prey species, preventing overpopulation that could disrupt the balance of the food chain.

Reproduction among great white sharks is a slow and careful process. Females reach sexual maturity between 12 and 18 years of age, while males mature earlier, around 9 to 10 years old. Mating occurs through complex courtship rituals, with females giving birth to a small number of live pups after a gestation period of about 12 to 18 months.

Great White Shark

However, the life of a great white shark is not without challenges. Human activities, including overfishing, pollution, and habitat destruction, pose significant threats to their population. Additionally, despite their formidable presence, great whites are vulnerable and face dangers from entanglement in fishing gear and accidental bycatch.

Despite these challenges, great white sharks continue to inspire awe and fascination among scientists and nature enthusiasts. Their presence in the ocean serves as a reminder of the delicate balance and interconnectedness of marine life, emphasizing the need for conservation efforts to protect these magnificent creatures for future generations to admire and study.

Want to learn more about sharks? Visit The Shark Trust website: www.sharktrust.org

Photos: avalon.red

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Marine Life & Conservation

Book Review: Sea Mammals

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Sea Mammals: The Past and Present Lives of Our Oceans’ Cornerstone Species by Annalisa Berta

This is a book packed with information about some of the most iconic and charismatic marine species. I have a particular soft spot for the pinnipeds, seals and sea lions, due to some incredible diving encounters over the years. So these were the pages I first turned to.

Once picked up this book is hard to put down. Polar Bears, Narwhal, Sea Otters, manatees, whales and dolphins adorn the pages with beautiful photographs and illustrations. Each turn of the page lures you in to discover more about a species you love, one you want to learn more about, some you have never heard of and even includes the details of fascinating animals that are sadly now extinct.

I think what I love most about this book is how it is organised. Rather than simply lump the animals into taxonomic groupings, they are put into chapters that tell you a story about them. Whether it is the story of their evolution, how they were discovered, their biology, behaviour or need for conservation. Once you have decided on an animal to delve deeper into, each species has its own story, as well as key information about size, diet, distribution, habitat and conservation status.

There is plenty to enjoy in this delightful book. Plenty to learn too. As the cold dark nights draw in, I can see myself delving into this book time and time again. This is a perfect gift for anyone that loves the ocean and its inhabitants. Or just treat yourself.

What the publisher says:

From the gregarious sea otter and playful dolphins to the sociable narwhal and iconic polar bear, sea mammals are a large, diverse, and increasingly precious group. In this book, Annalisa Berta, a leading expert on sea mammals and their evolution, presents an engaging and richly illustrated introduction to past and present species of these remarkable creatures, from the blue whale and the northern fur seal to the extinct giant sperm whale, aquatic sloth, and walking sea cow.

The book features more than 50 individual species profiles, themed chapters, stunning photographs, and specially commissioned paleo-illustrations of extinct species. It presents detailed accounts of these mammals’ evolutionary path, anatomy, behavior, habitats, and conservation. And because these are key species that complete many food chains and have the widest influence of all sea life, the book also offers insights into a broad variety of marine worlds today and in the future.

About the Author:

Annalisa Berta is professor emerita of biology at San Diego State University. A specialist in the anatomy and evolutionary biology of marine mammals, especially baleen whales, she formally described a skeleton of the early pinniped Enaliarctos. She is the author of Return to the Sea: The Life and Evolutionary Times of Marine Mammals and the editor of the award-winning Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises: A Natural History and Species Guide.

Book Details

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Hardcover

Price: £25

ISBN: 9780691236643

Published: 26th September, 2023

Pages: 224

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