El Niño events are associated with warmer sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean, and these elevated temperatures can lead to coral bleaching and other stress-related issues on marine ecosystems.
Does global warming have an impact on this phenomenon? Yes, it does. But it’s not the cause; this is a natural climate phenomenon that occurs due to a perturbation in the atmospheric circulation between the poles and the equator. The ENSO (El Niño-Southern Oscillation) makes the surface of the Pacific Ocean hotter than normal. Scientists have stated that we are experiencing a ‘Super Niño’ because global warming has also impacted the ocean’s temperature, creating abnormal temperatures.
While many coral projects concentrate on coral restoration, Innoceana has been diligently working since 2018 to understand the corals in Costa Rica by creating 3D models of coral colonies.
In 2023, the El Niño phenomenon presents a severe threat to most corals in Costa Rica, worsened by climate change. Innoceana’s solution lies in understanding why some corals thrive despite these challenges. The corals that currently survive the El Niño events are crucial for the future of these marine animals.
Currently, in the regions where Innoceana’s marine conservation efforts are undertaken, El Niño’s impact is highly noticeable. Its conditions force corals to release their life-sustaining zooxanthellae, turning them white and causing bleaching.
Right now, 80% of the indicator coral colonies in Caño Island, Costa Rica, have experienced extreme bleaching.
1- We have continuously monitored the Costa Rica coral reef since 2018.
Our efforts involve collecting water quality data and gathering biodiversity information on substrate, invertebrates, and fish within the reef ecosystems. Additionally, we utilize photogrammetry to create detailed 3D models of the coral reef, which aids us in assessing the reef’s health and identifying super corals.
Innoceana 3D Gallery. All the collected data has been shared with the Costa Rican government and international institutions to assist in addressing this global issue and to enhance decision-making and policy changes.
2- Innoceana is dedicated to advancing the field of coral immunology, particularly in the study of super corals.
Currently, only a handful of scientists are engaged in coral immunology research. To support this vital work, we are establishing a small laboratory equipped with the necessary instruments to investigate the immune responses of corals in Costa Rica. This initiative will enhance our understanding of super corals and contribute to the improvement of restoration efforts.
3- Our next significant undertaking involves a pilot coral restoration project in Corcovado.
Over the past decade, this region has witnessed an alarming 80% decline in its coral reefs due to tourism activities, sedimentation, and climate change. In collaboration with SCP, Innoceana is launching a restoration project in this area. Additionally, the findings from our immunology study will be applied to this site, making it an ideal location for implementing our research outcomes.
4- Innoceana is committed to raising global awareness about the coral decline in Costa Rica and its far-reaching consequences.
Every decision and action is crucial in the fight against climate change, and we believe that fundamental changes in human activities are necessary to prevent the extinction of corals.
With your generous support, we can achieve these research goals and make a lasting impact on marine conservation efforts not only on Caño Island but also on a global scale.
Your contribution is an investment in the future health of our oceans and the countless species that depend on them.