Project day coral reef in the primary school Lehndorf

Marine biology with all senses

After the first project day on coral reefs in November 2018 was so well received, the second project day took place on 9 March 2020 at the Lehndorf primary school in Braunschweig. This time it was again an instructive and successful day for all participants. After an introductory presentation, three stations invited the participants to get to know marine animals up close, to make microscopic examinations, to browse through illustrated books and much more.

 

The project day for the fourth grade was introduced by the presentation “Coral Reefs and Climate Protection” by marine biologist Stephan Moldzio. He introduced the pupils to the exciting world of coral reefs in a child-friendly manner and sensitized the young audience to one of the most important issues of the time: climate protection. A vivid poster illustrated the existential threat that global warming and ocean acidification pose to coral reefs. Afterwards the children were given the opportunity to become active themselves: In groups they went through different stations where they researched, discovered and learned with fun and enthusiasm.

Probably the most exciting station – in the truest sense of the word – was the seawater aquarium with its numerous inhabitants. The pupils marvelled at living corals, sea urchins, brittle stars, hermit crabs, algae and other sea animals. But it did not stop at observing. The animals were also taken on the hand and looked at from all sides. To touch an unknown creature, such as the brittle star with its five spiky arms, took some effort at first. I wonder if it stings? Or even bites? How does this animal behave? But all the children were brave and obviously enjoyed experiencing the interesting marine animals up close. The immediate understanding with all senses is especially important for the understanding of nature. By overcoming, approaching and close observation, fear of contact is reduced. Respect for the creatures and an interest in their way of life and their special features are developed. Understanding and enthusiasm for nature – the basis for environmental and nature conservation is created in childhood!

Another station was the book table, where children could browse through thick books and epic picture books on the subject of sea life and oceans at their leisure: Pictures of fish, corals and invertebrates from all over the world and there were exciting photos of sharks and whales to discover. After a short time the children were absorbed. Through the intuitive selection of illustrative material, it soon became clear who was enthusiastic about the colours and shapes of the corals, or who wanted to find out how dangerous sharks really are. By leafing through or reading intensively – they certainly learned something new.

At the third station, the pupils examined a wide variety of objects very closely through a microscope: In addition to coral skeletons, shells and snails, living small animals such as bristle worms, amphipods, floating shrimps and small coral fragments were also examined under the microscope. By microscopically examining dry preparations such as spiders, ants, wasps or flies, the children got to know the insects they already know from their home garden in a completely new way.

At the end of the lesson the students received a certificate of attendance. And to take home a paper bag with a booklet published for the International Year of the Reef (IYOR 2018), some sea postcards and a real piece of coral skeleton. The children will probably not forget this school day so quickly. And who knows? Maybe one or the other child has discovered a new passion on this day. You can find out more about the first project day on the topic of coral reefs here.

boot show – love your ocean 2020

GREEN CORALS at fair boot at the love-your-ocean initiative, organized by Deutsche Meeresstiftung, with many interesting actors from marine conservation and science.
After successful transportation and construction of the aquarium facility, some of our most beautiful GREEN CORALS đź’š went on holiday in DĂĽsseldorf for 10 days – as ambassadors for the worlds´ coral reefs! There was a broad variety of activities – boot4school, the Ocean Forum, presentations and workshops on the Waterpixel stage, lots of information, great insights into marine research e.g. of GEOMAR, as well as marine protection initiatives, live corals and marine animals, microscopy and experiments around the sea – here you can experience science up close!

 

In a short presentation “Can the coral reefs be saved?” on the Water Pixel Stage and a impulse speech at the Ocean Forum, we drew attention to the threats posed to coral reefs by the climate crisis, which are threatened by ocean warming and ocean acidification in their further existence as an ecosystem.

A poster just finished for the boat illustrates the gradual degradation of coral reefs.

Continue reading boot show – love your ocean 2020

GLOBAL DAY OF CLIMATE ACTION 29th nov. 2019, Braunschweig

On 29th nov. 2019 the 4th global climate strike of FridaysForFuture took place, with demonstrations in more than 150 countries. In Germany , about 630,000 people took to the streets in 519 cities under the slogan #NeustartKlima, urging the federal government to meet the 1.5°C target of the Paris Climate Agreement. In Braunschweig there were about 4,000 participants, pupils, students, trainees, parents, labour unions, scientists, pensioners, who gathered at 14:30 at the “Schlossplatz”. There were several speeches, the climate song “Do it Now!” was sung together with the support of several Braunschweig choirs and afterwards the demonstration went through the city centre of BS with self-painted posters, banners and lively slogans.  Back at the “Schlossplatz”, the final rally was held and Fabian Römer plus band performed at the end.
An all-round successful event, which was once again excellently organized by the many pupils and students of FridaysForFuture!

Here´s the speech of the The Scientists4Future Braunschweig, who support the claims of FridaysForFuture of a coal exit until 2030 and to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emission and 100% renewable energies until 2035:
Continue reading GLOBAL DAY OF CLIMATE ACTION 29th nov. 2019, Braunschweig

Marine Biology Weeks 2019

MARINE BIOLOGY WEEKS at MANTA RAY BAY RESORT / YAP

From 27th october to 9th november 2019, three different marine biology workshops were successfully carried out during the second MARINE BIOLOGY WEEKS event.
Our “base” was the 
Manta Ray Bay Resort with the restaurant ship “Mnuw” and the Yap Divers, which provided the best conditions for the workshops with its friendly and helpful staff and an excellent infrastructure.

 

In the course of the 3- and 2-day Marine Biology Workshops “basic” and “advanced” and the 2-day Coral Workshop we had a varied and exciting program with great diving and snorkeling trips, sampling and microscopy sessions, fish and coral identification, reef ecology and mangrove exploration.

Also on the “workshop-free” days we explored the island, with its interesting history and culture between Mens’ Houses, stone money bank and WW2 relicts, we visited the village in the district “Maap” where a traditional Yapese food was prepared for us, we searched and found numerous juvenile Napoleon wrasses inside two Blue Holes in the reef flat and on the last day we were allowed to attend the traditional Bamboo Dance in the village “Dachngar”.

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+ + + A detailed report will follow shortly ! + + +

For now, here some pics …

Marvellous reef world at Nikko Bay /Ngermid / Palau

Fantastic snorkel excursion at Ngermid / Nikko Bay, Palau.
Due to the very specific environmental conditions, the sheltered and nearly isolated location with only two small connections to the sea, it is obvious that Ngermid Bay is a particular unique habitat. From the mangroves and Rock Island vegetation there comes a large influx of organic material that is decomposed into inorganic nutrients by various invertebrates, microorganisms and finally bacteria.
This bacterio-and microzooplankton provides the basis of a thriving community of sponges and other filter feeders, like clams, tube worms, barnacles – and hard corals. These high nutrient levels, combined with an obviously very low exchange rate of water, makes this reef a sensitive and vulnerable environment that should be protected. The whole labyrinth of bays within the whole Nikko Bay resembles somehow like a huge aquarium and over millennia of time, this amazing reef community evolved here.

I got to this pristine place by bike (unfortunately, there´re nearly no bicycles at Palau, although the country is leading in marine conservation…), and riding aling the main road of Koror was the most dangerous part of this excursion…

There, starting from the jetty, I made three surveys to document the marine life, only interrupted by short breaks to change the battery and the camera lenses, all in all 260 min in the water until sunset.

Just shortly what to see on these pictures:

  • Transition from the mangroves, mudflat, seagrass bed to the reef.
  • In general, a strong competition for settlement space between hardcorals and various sponges, as well as a high reef erosion by sponges, too.
  • Until the eastern corner of that triangular bay in the reef (see map), nothing very unexpected – mainly Porites hardcorals with various growth forms from branching to massive, in competition for settlement space particularly with sponges, but also with clams and algae. All in effect of decomposing mangrove leaves and the resulting nutrients, bacterio- and microzooplankton.
  • But beyond the corner of that bay there was an increasing variety of different hard corals, mainly LPS (large polyp scleractinians) out of various genera: Lobophyllia, Favia, Favites, Acanthastrea, Montastrea, Goniastrea, Platygyra, Goniopora, Hydnophora, Fungia, Ctenactis, Heliofungia, Zoopilus and others for sure.
  • Besides these, still some SPS (small polyp scleractinians), predominantly Porites plus a few Pocillopora and Anacropora colonies, as well as two species of Acropora, which mainly occur under low nutrient conditions such at the outer reefs.
  • Beyond this diversity of hard corals it was also interesting to see the absence of any soft corals. Maybe this could result from the near absence of currents, as soft corals depend in their feeding behavior on water movement that carries their tiny diet of mainly phytoplankton right into their feathered tentacles?
  • Finally, at the edge of the Rock Island, I was completely stunned….. an absolutely mind-blowing wonderland of various LPS corals plus two different species of sea whips and black coral, which usually occur in the mesophotic reef zone or under extreme current conditions. Here, in only 3-5m depth.
  • So far this was all about corals… not to mention all the mainly juvenile fish out of various families, e.g. whiptail breams, snappers, emperors, parrotfish, wrasses, butterflyfish, rabbitfish, surgeonfish, and of course the omnipresent damselfish, cardinal fishes, blennies and gobies.
  • Especially remarkable were the abundant schools of juvenile bumphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) of all size classes up to some subadult individuals, as well as several juvenile Napoleon wrasses (Cheilinus undulatus), among one subadult / already mature female. And that quite rare Eightband butterflyfish (Chaetodon octofasciatus). At the edge of the Rock Island an around 1,5m Whitetip Reefshark (Triaenodon obesus) passed by. I did not see the local saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) with an alleged size of 3m though, but it surely perceived me…

For documentation of the reef fishes, most of the time I had the “wrong” lens on, so I focused on the sessile and slow moving invertebrates. More species (makro photos) will follow…
When it was not raining, the water surface was so flat so that you can photograph the rock island vegetation through the surface. So the Fisheye lens made some really amazing photos possible.

Many thanks to Cliff for the support and providing his infrastructure and thanks to Pat for the advice to go this unique and amazing spot!