Wish Upon a Sea Star

Projects to Combat Global Climate Change, One Community at a Time
December 3 - 31, 2018

No challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change. We are already experiencing the impacts of devastating natural disasters, including worsening hurricane seasons in the Caribbean and Pacific and increasingly deadly wildfires in California. The effects of climate change have manifested globally in the form of fires, droughts, hurricanes, sea level rise, and coral bleaching, and continue to intensify at an unprecedented scale.

This year, Reef Check’s Wish Upon a Sea Star projects are on the front lines of combating climate change. Our citizen scientists are expanding our knowledge of climate impact on the oceans, empowering coastal communities to preserve their local reefs, and nurturing the next generation of ocean ambassadors. Please join us by choosing your favorite projects to support and help us make a difference for current and future generations.

  • Keepers of the Coral

    Coral bleaching can turn rich, diverse and healthy coral reefs into rubble within months, but not all corals respond equally to warming seas. Understanding which corals are resilient to bleaching can help us care for coral reefs in a changing climate. NOAA and Reef Check are partnering to empower communities worldwide with the tools to understand how their coral reef will be impacted by climate change....

    Climate change threatens coral reefs globally and, with them, the livelihoods and wellbeing of millions of people in coastal communities. So far we’ve monitored ocean warming and coral bleaching with data from satellites that measure the temperature of the sea at the surface - not at depth, underwater, where coral reefs actually live. And underwater temperature sensors are too expensive for most communities that live next to coral reefs… until now!

    Reef Check and NOAA are partnering to use a newly developed inexpensive underwater temperature sensor – the Opuhala Sensor, named after the Hawaiian goddess of coral reefs. NOAA will share these sensors with Reef Check teams all over the globe. Our citizen scientists will use the data from these sensors to answer the questions: 1) how are my local waters warming, 2) which corals bleach and die and which can bounce back, and 3) which parts of my coral reef are better prepared to adapt to climate change? Meanwhile, scientists at NOAA will be able to compare underwater temperatures from all over the globe with the data from satellites and buoys, allowing them to improve our global understanding of ocean warming and to spot important oceanographic patterns.

    But we can’t do this alone! Deploying oceanographic instruments in the ocean is expensive, requiring boats, diving equipment, and frequent trips out to the ever-changing sea to check on the sensors and ensure data is being properly collected. So how will we use your donation? $50 will ship a pack of sensors to a single community, $500 will allow us to install and maintain 6 sensors on the reef, and $1000 will help us install and maintain a full sensor array on a reef for one year. Every bit of your support helps!


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  • California’s Climate Canaries

    Hidden beneath the sea’s green surface, an army of oceanographic sensors silently collects information along California’s coastline. Their mission? Capture data on temperature, acidity, and oxygen fluctuations in the state’s iconic kelp forests as our oceans encounter climate change. California’s marine ecosystems are rapidly changing and studying these shifts can help us understand and mitigate climate change worldwide....

    These sensors are the crown jewels of Reef Check’s climate change research project and are studded along California’s entire coast, from Oregon to Mexico. With more than 60 temperature loggers and 6 multifunctional arrays deployed under the sea, the project’s goal is to fill in the data gaps on California’s shifting ocean chemistry in the face of climate change. Soaked in the chemical makeup of the sea, marine organisms and ecosystems can be severely altered by climate-driven changes, intensifying the urgency for monitoring. This science serves to inform not only the agencies managing California’s marine resources, but also the general public so that citizens may be involved in the conservation and advocacy of their ocean.

    Reef Check’s climate change project provides long-term ocean chemistry information that, paired with our ongoing reef surveys, equips us with a reinforced understanding of California’s changing nearshore environment. Armed with this knowledge, Reef Check can advance policies and actions to defend our coast against climate change. $40 allows us to download and analyze a dataset, $75 purchases a new temperature logger, and $250 maintains a multifunctional sensor array at one site for a year. With your help we can continue to collect and share this invaluable data on our marine environment so that we may wield the power to protect it.


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  • A New Generation of Ocean Ambassadors

    Imagine being out at sea on a boat hearing young students screaming in delight as they see dolphins gracefully swimming through the waves for the very first time with their own eyes. Envision these students making personal connections to the ocean, so vast and yet under threat, and then discovering how they can take action and make a difference. By learning and spreading the word about the effects of climate change and ways in which we can reduce our carbon footprint, they can become ambassadors to their communities for reducing human impacts in the future....

    Many students in Southern California know very little about the ocean and the incredible animals that inhabit the waters in their own backyard; some of them have never even laid eyes on the ocean before. These students also have limited knowledge of climate change, although as future contributors they are among the most vulnerable to its impacts.

    Educational Marine Biological Adventures with Reef Check – EMBARC – is our interactive marine education program that gives underserved inner-city students a chance to experience the ocean environment first hand. During a unique 3-hour boat expedition, students gain awareness about the value of ocean resources, the threats to the ocean, and the solutions they can be a part of. As a result of their participation in EMBARC, many of these students become ocean ambassadors, making environmentally conscious changes in their own lives and inspiring others in their schools and families to do the same.

    $30 provides this extraordinary educational experience to a single middle or high school student, and $1000 enables 35 students to enjoy the trip with their classmates. Your support can help Reef Check continue to nurture our new generation of young ocean ambassadors so that they are empowered to protect our marine environment for future generations to come.


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