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Shrooms Anyone?

Written by Elouise Haskin

Did you know that there are many kinds of mushrooms out there, ones that aren’t just for eating, poisoning your enemies, or inducing hallucinogenic states? Well, there certainly is! And in this article we aim to introduce you to them! Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of the mushroom corals; or, the Fungiids!

What the Mush Are They All About?

They are a part of the Scleractinian order, containing within it all the reef building (hard) corals. To the untrained eye, mushroom corals can seem a little underwhelming - but that's only to those who haven't given them a chance. Once you've taken them in, you start seeing the reef a whole lot differently! They get their nickname ‘mushroom corals’ by the visual similarities of terrestrial mushrooms and when we compare them to the rest of the structurally complex, firmly attached, and often aesthetically pleasing hard coral they may appear somewhat simplistic and, let’s be honest; easy to overlook. Today we hope to change your mind, and plant the seed of interest for this fascinating group of animals. So, let’s delve into the life of a mushroom coral.

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New Heaven Reef Conservation: The Place Where the Hope is Blooming

Written By: Maythira (May) Kasemsant

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A nature enthusiast who was selected as a first grantee in Reef Ambassador Program for 3-month internship at New Heaven Reef Conservation Program, Koh Tao, Thailand. This blog is for sharing knowledge and experience I got from the program.

When talking about the underwater world, we might associate it with thoughts of a ‘Paradise Under the Sea’.

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The NHRCP Bans Sunscreen from its Boats

As of June 8th, 2018, the NHRCP will be banning all chemical based sunscreens from our boats. In recent years, more and more data has been shown that chemicals such as oxybenzone that is contained in sunscreens can be harmful to coral reef health. Studies have shown that these chemicals can induce bleaching in coral fragments, activate latent viruses in zooxanthellae, deform coral larvae, and damage coral DNA. Other studies have also shown that these chemicals can disrupt the hormones and life stages of fish. Although these studies are not entirely conclusive (most were done in labs and not in the field) they are concerning, and in the face of uncertainty we prefer to follow the precautionary principle and do what we can to protect our local reefs.

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The Tip of a Branch – What It Means to Live Forever

     The Tree of Life is a concept that is instantly recognizable to so many of us. It’s an archetypal image, a primitive concept that strikes at the very roots of our humanity and evolved independently in a variety of different cultures since history was first recorded. In each of the planet’s most enduring religions the tree appears as an allegory for many things: enlightenment, innocence and perhaps most as a symbol of life eternal. And what has been a greater source of obsession in our species? As mortal creatures we’re all inevitably forced to reflect on our own impermanence, each of us a brief flicker of light brought into this world all thanks to the desperate attempts of other flickers of light to stay lit in an endless relay race of life. It can all feel a bit…futile at times, but that couldn’t be further from the reality.

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Just How Effective Are Electrified Artificial Reefs?

Electrified Artificial Reefs are a technology which has the potential to contribute greatly to the protection and managemnet of coral reefs around the globe. Unfortunately, the technology has been kept out of the hands of most reef restorationists for nearly a decade. The costs and technical expertise needed to implement an electrified artificial reef are high, but the main reason this technique has thus far remained out of the hands of most coral conservationists is due to the patents and trademarked proprietary knowledge of BioRockTM that were filed back in 1996. Through the Save Koh Tao Group enough money was raised to begin one of our island’s largest underwater community projects to date, and the funds necessary to pay the hefty licensing fees to BioRockTM allowed us to bring this coral saving technology to our waters. The site was named Hin Fai (Fire Rock) and it still sits in-between Koh Nang Yuan and Koh Tao, where it has become a home to a wide host of different species that use the artificial structures as a habitat.

After only two years, the underwater transformer for Hin Fai broke down, and the funds that were needed to bring BioRockTM representatives back to the island to repair it were simply too high.

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New Heaven Reef Conservation Program