Coral-rich seas

Do you dive? I don't, but as a kid, I have swam in coral reefs off the coast of Malaysia. The colours of the corals and the fishes - everything was alive and over the top. While Southeast Asia is the crown of marine diversity, we are losing our corals fast. Marine biologist James Tan tell us about corals and how we can protect them.

Guests

  1. James Tan Chun Hong – marine biologist at School of Marine and Environmental Sciences, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu.

Show was recorded 8 March 2021.

Resources mentioned in show

  1. Coral Spawning Database – An open database of >6000 observations of coral spawning events in the Indo-Pacific region.
  2. Reefs at Risk 2012 – A assessment of threats in the Coral Triangle.

Explore further

  1. Coral restoration efforts restore hope – A story in The Scientist
  2. Reefbase – A global information depository on coral reefs
  3. Lau et al. 2019 – A study demonstrating how divers helped scientists collect coral data in Malaysia

Show notes

[Sorry folks, notes will be brief for this episode. I have committed full time to a new project, so sadly I can’t write more here.]

I knew little about corals. I have a silly fear of the depths so I’m as likely to dive off a boat as I am to dive off a plane – I’ve done both once, and that’s enough for me.

But that’s my loss. In the shallow seas in Southeast Asia, off the coasts and around the islands,  there is a rich world of coral reefs filled with vibrant, diverse and colourful marine life.

The Coral Triangle, a region that spans from the Philippines to Java in Indonesia to Papua New Guinea, houses almost 80% of the world’s coral species. In turn, these coral reefs support thousands of species of fishes, mollusks, shrimps…etc.

However, the reefs are threatened. We often hear about corals dying in a warming sea. How does that happen?

More importantly, I want to act to save the corals. What can I do?

I want to know more without getting into the sea. Are corals animals or plants? How do they breed? Why are dead corals always white?

So, I invited marine biologist Dr James Tan Chun Hong to give me all the answers. He studies corals and is particularly keen to study how coral spawn, or reproduce.

James contributed to a Coral Spawning Database that was published in January.

Coral spawning
Corals releasing eggs and sperm bundles (pink) in a spawning event. Pic: James Tan.

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Acknowledgement

Intro clip music was arranged by Yap Sheau Jia. Outro clip music “Sunday Plans” by Silent Partner.

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