Coral reefs are ecologically and economically highly valuable ecosystems. Currently they are facing several natural and anthropogenic threats. Temperature, pH and nutrient concentrations in the sea water are important factors for coral health. Due to climate change and ocean acidification , coral reefs experience rapid changes in these water parameters worldwide and it is important to know how these ecosystems will react to rapid changes in environmental conditions.
At the North Pacific coast of Costa Rica, strong winds push surface waters away from the shore causing upwelling of cold and nutrient-rich deep waters during dry season (December to March). The occurance of this event called ‘Papagayo upwelling’ affects the chemistry and physical conditions of the seawater, causing rapid changes in temperature, pH, nutrients, oxygen and turbidity. Therfore the gulf of Papagayo can serve as a natural laboratory for changes in water parameters and the response of coral reefs. The reefs in this area are exposed to a highly dynamic environment during the upwelling and it is interesting to investigate how the corals adapted to the natural variability because the impact of climate change worldwide will be determined by the capacity of species to adjust to environmental changes.
The COSTACID project is being conducted in this area; we have been made aware of this as reseachers Ines, Indra and Celeste have been filling their tanks here in Rich Coast Diving. They are evaluating the status of the local reefs at 3 different sites along the pacific coast of Costa Rica (Santa Elena, Matapalo and Marino Ballena) and are also trying to estimate the functioning and structure of coral reefs in an acidified ocean as projected for the future world wide. All the data gathered during this research will improve the knowledge about the ecosystems in this area and will be a valuable resource for decision makers. The new information will help to understand the current situation and vizualise the future of coral reefs in the area.
Ines and co brought round a German TV crew yesterday so in a few weeks you can view Brenda, Tyler and myself (Laura) being interviewd on TV about our involvement with aquatic conservation, our Green Star Award for donations to conservation projects and our pledge to help Ines and her team during their stay here in Costa Rica.