This project made possible by funding from The West Oxford Agricultural Society ~ presenter of The Fryeburg Fair

Friday, May 20, 2011

And so you ask - What does Maine have to do with coral reefs?

Oceans around the world are being affected by our increase in CO2 emissions. These emissions increase the acidity of our ocean waters. Among many things, an important piece of the crochet reef project is to help raise awareness of the affects these increases are having and will continue to have on our ocean waters and it's many creatures.

But we don't have coral or coral reefs anywhere near Maine you say..... 
Ahhhh... but we do little grasshopper! But that's not all..... Read on.

Apparently, only one cold water coral species can form reefs, but there are other corals that inhabit our nearby cold waters. In fact, Canada, has established the Northeast Channel Coral Conservation Area where they have been studying maritime corals since the late 1990's off of the coast of Nova Scotia. I have always thought the cold waters off of the Maine coast to be dark, dreary and colorless. Not so! I was amazed to see the photos of colorful pink corals in photos in above mentioned links!

Maine's coastal heritage and economic bounty from our oceans via the seafood industry will not be left behind in the affects of our oceans acidity. In addition to coral, shellfish of all kinds are affected by increased acidity in our oceans in the same way. The economic impact in future generations will be significant according to Maine ocean scientists.

Robert Steneck, a professor at the School of Marine Sciences at the University of Maine says, "The problem is in our backyard."......and, "The acidity caused when carbon dioxide and water combine to make carbonic acid reduces the availability of calcium carbonate, or limestone, in the sea. Coral reefs are made of limestone, and lobsters, sea urchins, clams and scallops need it to calcify the hard parts of their bodies. Pteropods, a small, swimming organism with shells inside their bodies, are a major food source for Atlantic salmon. Yet, Steneck says, there is evidence that their shells, which the organisms can’t live without, are already eroding."

Proving this claim is professor of Marine Sciences at St. Joseph's College, Dr. Mark Green,  who has been globally recognized for his research on the affects of acidification on juvenile clams. He has scientifically proven that the increased acidification indeed causes a reduction of calcium carbonate without which, juvenile clams can not grow healthy shells and ultimately die off. You can read more about his findings by going to the link on our home page.

Maine’s participation in the Crochet Coral Reef project goes beyond the creation of a Satellite reef. This project not only offers an opportunity for the Maine community to crochet and create an amazing artistic fiber art display, but doing so, will also help raise awareness of the fragility and importance of the human affect on our oceans and potentially Maine’s economy as it relates to the shellfish industry and our food supply.

Whether you are a fiber artist, craftsman, crocheter, mathematician, scientist, conservationist, or anyone else that this projects might inspire, I hope you will join us in supporting this fabulous project in a way that speaks to your heart......

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