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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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Artificial Reefs: What works and what doesn’t

Artificial reefs are one of the many tools used by marine conservationists to restore coral reefs around the globe, they are made from a variety of natural or synthetic materials, and come in an infinite number of shapes and styles. The goal of these artificial reefs is generally to provide a stable growing area for corals, and habitat for fishes and all the other organisms that you would find on a natural reef. Over the years, artificial reefs have a lot of praise from those who have worked with them, but a lot of criticisms from scientists who see it as working on the symptoms and not the problems that face coral reefs. At the New Heaven Reef Conservation Program, we have been working with artificial reefs for over a decade, and in this article, we are going to explore the history of artificial reefs, and then look at some of the methods we have found to be the most or least successful.

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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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New Heaven Reef Conservation Program