Coral Reef Status
Coral reefs are large colonies of living animals. Reefs are similar to rainforests in that they support a surprisingly diverse range of species. One estimate is that they shelter 25% of all marine species while covering less than 0.1% of the ocean surface.
However, reefs are fragile ecosystems that are highly sensitive to water temperature. El Nino years are especially hard on coral, and global warming is a concern. Many once-colorful reefs are now a drab white; aside from the reduced aesthetics, bleached coral is likely to die. Estimates are that 10% of the world's coral reefs are dead, with another 60% threatened.
Pollution is a major problem for coral reefs. To highlight this, a part of the Roanoke Valley Reef is a "toxic reef" exhibit. Pieces in the Toxic Reef have been crocheted from plastic grocery bags with plastic spiral binding and various non-degradable plastics that are increasingly poisoning the Earth's water.
The Roanoke Valley Reef project has looked for ways to be eco-friendly. The recycling of yarn, pulled from old sweaters at yard sales, is one way to help the environment in general, and coral reefs in particular.
Thomas Lux '15, Randall Pittman '16, Maya Shende '14, John Guidry '14 and Natalie Wilkinson '16 presented research at the Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges.