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Chasing Coral Bleaching: A Present and Growing Ecological Disaster

Coral reefs are beautiful and complex ecosystems that support at least a quarter of all marine species. As ocean temperatures rise, corals have been losing the algae that give them their color and their food. Reefs across the Earth have shown us that climate change is not some far-off problem we can worry about later. Mass coral bleaching is only a 35 year-old problem but it has been increasing in frequency and severity; a gruesome picture painted during a recent three-year global coral bleaching event. Dr. Eakin, the Coordinator of NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch will describe this growing problem and its haunting future while attempting to leave you hopeful that we have a chance to save coral reefs before they are all gone. During his presentation he’ll discuss resources that NOAA provides to understand this essential marine ecosystem, the biological systems that support them, how we study them, what's being done to try and save them, and what you can do to help. We’ll also explore a new film, Chasing Coral (now available on Netflix), that takes students - and everyone else - on a journey to document and understand coral reefs and the problems they face.

Dr. Mark Eakin
Dr. Mark Eakin

Dr. C. Mark Eakin (Mark.Eakin@noaa.gov) has worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for over 20 years and directs Coral Reef Watch, a program that monitors coral reef ecosystems through satellite and in water observations.

Dr. Eakin holds a Ph.D. from the University of Miami and publishes on coral reef ecology, especially the impact of climate change on coral reefs, coral bleaching, ocean acidification, and coral paleoclimatology.

He co-chaired the US Coral Reef Task Force’s Climate Change Working Group, has testified before the US Congress on the impacts of climate change, was a contributing author on the 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report, and a Chief Scientific Advisor for the Sundance-winning film Chasing Coral.