Tanya Johnson Visits the Coral Reefs of Bora Bora

How the Manzanita Foundation Is Raising Awareness of Climate Change

Tanya Johnson has just returned from a trip to Bora Bora, a small South Pacific island northwest of Tahiti in French Polynesia that’s known for its scuba diving and coral reefs. Throughout her trip, Tanya spent a great deal of time underwater appreciating the natural beauty of the island’s coral reefs.

Yet, coral reefs are among the most threatened ecosystems on Earth. Climate change, global CO2 emissions, and rising global temperatures are wiping out some of the most well-known coral reefs around the world, including the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and Bora Bora. According to UNESCO, the coral reefs in all 29 reef-containing World Heritage sites would cease to exist by the end of this century if the plant continues to emit greenhouse gases at current levels.

Coral reefs contain the highest biodiversity of any ecosystem in the world and directly support over 500 million people worldwide, mostly those living in poor countries. As a strong advocate for safeguarding biodiversity, Tanya Johnson and the Manzanita Foundation are raising awareness of the effects of climate change and how it’s threatening coral reefs around the world.

How Climate Change Threatens Coral Reefs

The planet is getting warmer. Man-made CO2 emissions have led to a rise in global surface temperature of 1 degree Celsius since pre-industrial times. When the temperature in the ocean rises, corals release the symbiotic algae living in their tissues. This leads to the process known as coral bleaching, in which corals shed their bright colors and turn white. Corals eventually die if they remain bleached for long periods of time. As a result, 33% of the world’s coral reefs are threatened with extinction.

Bora Bora is a small strip of land that’s surrounded by a large lagoon and a thick coral reef. Earlier this year, local authorities reported bleaching throughout the area. Estimates show more than 50% of coral reefs around Tahiti and Moorea were bleached and bleached corals were observed as deep as 100 meters. While some of the reef has recovered, much of the bleaching remains.

On her trip, Tanya Johnson saw some of these corals in person. Much of the lagoon was sapped of its original natural beauty, giving the ocean floor a ghost white appearance.

Why Coral Reefs Are So Important for Biodiversity

Coral reefs aren’t just admired for their natural beauty. They play an integral role in the global economy. Corals are home to millions of species of fish and other wildlife. Without these reefs, many fish would cease to exist, depriving communities of a valuable food source. Nations and communities around the world depend on coral reefs for medicine, protection from major storms, and tourism, all essential to the local economy.

For its part, Bora Bora has unveiled a marine conservation program to help protect the area’s coral reefs. The island has started educating the local community, including students, businesses, and organizations, on the effects of climate change. Scientists and researchers continue to study and observe the island’s coral reefs, including coral bleaching and its effect on the local environment.  

Tanya Johnson and the Manzanita Foundation are committed to protecting coral reefs and the communities they support. The foundation is bringing attention to the effects of climate change and how it threatens communities around the world. Tanya Jonson and the Manzanita Foundation believe everyone should have a sustainable roadmap to personal and economic success. Climate change and coral bleaching pose a direct threat to the sustainability of these communities. Islands like Bora Bora tend to suffer the most when large industrial nations like the U.S. and China emit the most greenhouse gases. Countries around the world need to come together to address this urgent issue.

Protecting the natural environment is a cause that’s dear to Tanya Jonson’s heart. The Manzanita Foundation has funded wildlife and habitat conservation in Africa, Asia and South America. Contact the Manzanita Foundation to learn more about its conservation efforts.

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