Saturday, April 30, 2011

S.O.R. Save Our Reefs

1. What is a polyp? What does a polyp need to be considered “coral”?

A polyp is formed when a coral larvae grows out of a substrate. The polyp is a sessile creature that has a stalk attached to the substrate caudally. Its mouth is located on the opposite end and is surrounded by tentacles. This polyp then multiplies to make hundreds of polyps. At this point the colony is called coral. When there are many corals growing together, it is called a reef.

2. What types of things are coral sensitive to in the ocean?

Coral is very sensitive to change. Slight changes in marine temperature can be disastrous for coral colonies. Even a variation of a few degrees can put stress on a coral.

3. When does coral bleaching occur?

When the temperature of the ocean increases a few degrees, the algae living on the coral (zooxanthellae live symbiotically within the coral tissues to assist in nutrient production) move to a new and more stable location. When this happens, the coral no longer has a sufficient energy source and loses its color as result of the lack of algae. This lack of coloration in the coral colonies is referred to as coral bleaching. If the temperature of the water does not return to its normal cooler temperature quickly, the bleached coral dies.

Picture: (1) Bleached Coral (2) Nearly Recovered Coral

4. Why do scientists think that coral bleaching is occurring more now than ever?

Scientists believe coral bleaching is occurring more often as a result of climate change. Global warming is affecting the sea life we have come to love.

5. List three ways people can reduce their impact to climate change?

Saving energy, avoiding car travel, and recycling are three ways we can help make a difference and help save the coral reefs.

Video #2: Why should we care about climate change/destruction of coral reefs?

1. How many species of: fish, hard coral, soft coral, sea birds, shore birds

1,500 species of fish, 360 species of hard coral, 1/3 of the world’s species of soft corals, 22 species of sea birds, and 32 species of shore birds rely on the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem for survival.

2. What is responsible for warming our oceans?

Climate change is responsible for warming the world’s oceans. We are directly affecting the underwater life on our planet.

3. How does increased flooding affect the reefs and the fish that birds that live there?

Increased flooding pollutes the reef. The fish living in the area move to farther and deeper water to escape the harmful effects of the pollution. As a result of this, birds lose their most important food source. The birds cannot travel so far off the shore and cannot reach the fish.

4. List three additional ways (not listed above) that people can reduce climate change:

We can buy environmentally sustainable products, open windows instead of using air conditioners, and dry clothes on the line instead of using a dryer. All of these things can help protect the environment.

Video #3/#4: Educating children about the effects of climate change

Watch the following two videos that are aimed at teaching children about the effects of climate change.

1. List two benefits and two drawbacks to using this kind of media to teach this information.

Benefits: These videos are targeted at Australia’s children. By educating the children, the next generation will be able to create a difference and a better future. These videos are fun to watch. As one watches them, they become attached to the main character and hate to see the harmful effects global warming has on them. These videos make people want to help.

Drawbacks: These advertisements are aimed at specific groups of people. It is hard to create a video such as this that appeals to adults but is on a child’s understanding level. Another issue is most people in other nations do not see these videos. It is harder to create a difference when only a few people are aware of the situation.

Videos about the Great Barrier Reef: Please Watch!

This video would be beneficial to adults from Australia because it doesn’t give too much background information that they would most likely already know. Instead this video gives good information on how reefs provide for many different countries. Overfishing is one of the main concerns in the video.

This video is would be beneficial for foreigners not from Australia because it describes the coral bleaching process in detail and without the requirement of having previous background knowledge. It explains the entire process clearly and gives advanced information on the subject.
This video is beneficial to the tourists visiting The Great Barrier Reef. It not only provides information on the threat the reef is under, it also gives background information on the reef and the affects the reef has on the economy and on the world. These things are very important for travelers to know before they go to a new place.

Protecting the World’s Largest Living Structure

1. The Great Barrier Reef is considered the “largest living structure on Earth.” It is incredible in its size and biodiversity.

Coral is one animal that is home to millions of others. It is crucial to the survival of the wide range of animal life in the Pacific Ocean.

2. Coral can form solid tentacles to aid in feeding habits. These tentacles are made from Calcium carbonate the coral extracts from the ocean. Coral diet can range from plankton to small fish. Nematocysts, or sting cells, allow coral to capture and kill prey.

3. The coral found on the base of the Great Barrier Reef is connected and grows as one giant mass. The coral would not be able to do this without the help of red algae. Red algae act as a glue to connect and cement a coral to another coral with sheets of Calcium carbonate.

The Great Barrier Reef is an important ecosystem and provides the world with a wide variety of species and life. The reef is influential to its regional economy as it provides a wealth of tourists, products, and food.

4. The Great Barrier Reef became a national park in 1975.

This, however, did not entirely protect it from disaster though. Environmental hazards and over fishing are primary concerns today.

5. Currently, 33% of the Great Barrier Reef is protected from fishing.

The world will need to do more to do more to help save this beautiful underwater land.

6. Scientists believe the current reef is approximately 20 thousand years old. However, recent research has shown there was a reef before this one buried deep as the next generation of coral continued to grow on top of it. The ancient reef is believed to be ½ million years old.

Something so precious and so old needs to be protected.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Children Away

An advisement letter to the Prime Minister of Australia recommending an apology to the Aboriginal people for the pain and heartache caused by the Stolen Generation.

Advisor S.

120 West Abigail St.

Sydney, Australia

5 December 2007

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

Prime Minister

Parliament House

Canberra, Australia

Dear Prime Minister,

The Aboriginals and the westerners have been interacting since Australia was colonized. When the British came to colonize Australia they didn’t think of the repercussions their actions would have on the native culture. They knew only what they brought with them. They divided up the land, taking the best for themselves naturally, and decided the natives could move. What they didn’t understand was that the Aboriginal tribes lived in family groups and their spirits would return to the land their family lived on when they died. When the colonists moved in, the aborigines felt the need to protect their ancestry from the invaders. In addition to this, the westerners brought disease and influenza, cut down forests, and exhausted water holes. Soon “white settlers and Aborigines were at war for… land and water” ( Aboriginals were told where to live and were not even considered citizens until 1967. [Think about that for a second… this is around the same time the U.S. was introduced to the John F. Kennedy assassination, The Beatles, Martin Luther King Jr., and Elvis Presley. The world had been through two world wars and fought for the rights of various nations. The Australian natives gained their rights only two years before NASA landed Neil Armstrong on the moon! Can you imagine such a world with so many advancements and yet so far behind?] The upset in the Aboriginal culture begun all the way back in 1788 and progressively worsened over time.

By living in close proximity with each other, the two cultures began to mingle. A new nationality was created: half Aborigine and half white. The Australians disliked the idea of this race embracing their Aboriginal heritage. In an attempt to promote assimilation, these children were taken and educated in the western culture. Gaining popularity in 1909 through 1969 the government allowed for the forced removal of children with mixed Aboriginal and white backgrounds. They were often taken by force and without a warrant. This caused traumatic stress for both the children and their families. This event was left a festering sore by history and called the “Stolen Generation.”

Being a part of the Stolen Generation completely changed one’s life. It’s not as simple as saying you’re sorry after a time out like a child. Innocent people’s lives were forever changed, never to know the original outcome. In most cases across the country the outcome of the children’s family replacement was extremely negative. In many of the cases the children were mentally, physically, or sexually abused by their new families. This caused traumatic instances and negatively influenced the way they lived their lives. Similar to the situation with African Americans in the United States, they were sold to white families and unfortunately were virtually used as slaves. Some of the kids found their way back home years later, but most never saw their families ever again.

The policy of the Stolen Generation “…broke important cultural, spiritual and family ties which crippled not only individuals, but whole families and even whole communities” ( The policy had a lasting impact on the treatment of the Aboriginal people. As a result of the terrible conditions the children were forced to endure caused depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress, and suicide are common among the stolen. These people have to endure these mental handicaps for the rest of their lives. Aborigines still have trouble accessing adequate health care, housing, and even food and water ( Life expectancy and the infant mortality rate of Aborigines are very poor today as well. These past actions have been carried by their bearers into the present. The Stolen Generation also feels a sense of “cultural alienation.” They didn’t find out their cultural background until later in their lives and now they do not feel they fit into their own culture. Unfortunately the westerners succeeded in wiping out the culture in this generation of aborigines.

What occurred in this chapter of the history of Australia is terrible and unforgivable. There isn’t a reason why one should not apologize for these actions. It was not moral to take these people’s lives away from them. Prime Minister John Howard stated the “current generation should not be responsible for the mistakes of the past.” If we are not responsible for the past how can we be responsible for the future? How will we learn? I believe a formal apology should be made as soon as possible. An apology is necessary for our country to grow. Most Aborigines are only looking for an apology to know that they are accepted and an important piece of Australia.

Respectfully yours,

Advisor S.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd did issue a formal apology to the Aboriginal people for the loss and poor treatment of those included in the Stolen Generation soon after he was brought into office.

Please Watch!

Archie Roach is a member of the Stolen Generation. He began writing and singing songs about his experiences. This is his 1987 hit, Took the Children Away, which launched him on an upward musical career. He says, "I still feel the pain, every day. Sometimes it threatens to engulf me. But I'm not going to let it destroy me."

It’s a beautiful song with a good message.