Leading Coral Experts Prepare For Symposium in Hawaii

Hundreds of the world’s top ocean scientists will gather in Honolulu next month for the 13th International Coral Reef Symposium. It’s the first time the conference will be held in Hawai‘i.

Leading coral experts say it’s a critical time for our reefs. Warming sea temperatures and increased ocean acidification are continuing to stress these ecosystems. Human activity has also taken a toll: overfishing, runoff of sewage and sediments from the shore.

“We can’t keep doing things the way we’re doing them now and expect there to be anything left,” said Robert Richmond, the director of Kewalo Marine Laboratory in Honolulu. He’s also organizing this year’s International Coral Reef Symposium.

Richmond believes the answer may lie in bridging science and application in the real world. That idea is also the running theme for this year’s symposium. It’s not just scientists that are invited. Policy makers and political leaders from the Pacific Islands will also be attending.

Ruth Gates, director of the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology at the University of Hawai‘i, says that’s an important step.

“In order for our science to have impact, we have to stop assuming that it does,” said Gates. “And we have to actually talk about why it does and what we can use our science to facilitate in terms of action.”

Listen to the full story at Hawaii Public Radio.