Despite the fact that coral reefs are one of the most productive and biodiversity-dense ecosystems on our planet, they are massively under pressure through global and local impacts like overfishing, rising sea levels and rising water temperatures, increasing storm intensity, as well as ocean acidification. Living in coastal areas, the importance and value of reef ecosystems is obvious – from food security to coastal protection. But as terrestrial beings we tend to forget how connected we all are with our oceans, and how dependent human civilization is on healthy marine ecosystems.
In the middle of Germany’s financial centre, the bustling city of Frankfurt/Main, a beautiful reef has grown over the last three years. Leave the noise of the town behind and dive into a world only a few of us have encountered so far. Within the massive stone walls of the Senckenberg Museum, a lifelike rendering, species-rich, diverse Indo-Pacific coral reef system has been developed by scientists and modelers. https://museumfrankfurt.senckenberg.de/en/exhibition/preview/coral-reef/
Voices from the Pacific invite visitors to understand human-reef interaction and protection possibilities. Tahiti-based Okeanos team-member Eliane Coller interviewed local community members about their relationship with the reef. From the rich archives of Okeanos Foundation for the Sea and its partners, amazing underwater footage is integrated into the accompanying media guide. The secret star, though, is hard to find but even harder to forget: A tiny coconut octopus in a shell. It was modelled after the researchers went through the material supplied by Okeanos. “The team was immediately hooked!”, remembers Philipe Havlik, curator of the exhibition. One of the modelers could literally not stop thinking about the beautiful performance of the tiny creature. “Over the weekend, she created a lifelike model at her kitchen table, just because she could not withstand the temptation.”.
Although reefs suffer from ocean warming and ocean acidification, a lot of pressure can be taken off these systems on a local basis. Here is what we all can do to protect reefs:
Avoid ankers or fishing nets to get into contact with reefs.
Avoid touching reefs, stepping onto them or even letting your fins touch them, as they can easily be harmed.
Avoid leaving rubbish on the beach that will end up in the ocean, or even better: get active in clean-ups!
Never use sunscreen immediately before you swim, snorkel or dive and switch to reef safe sunscreen.
We invite you!
Please share with us if you come across exhibitions, theatre plays or other creative forms of dealing with our world’s beautiful oceans and seas that inspired you!