The ECOS Environmental Responsibility Committee is hosting Care for Coral Week starting on March 9 to raise awareness and spark conversation about the challenges faced by this marine species.
First-year and ECOS Environmental Responsibility Committee Member Chloe McKenna began developing this event last semester when she first came up with the idea. Since then, she has been contacting coral conservationists from various organizations to bring them to Eckerd.
“I thought it would be cool to have a whole week dedicated to or at least some events dedicated to coral restoration to just educate students on that and raise awareness about that and be sure that Eckerd students care about coral reefs worldwide,” McKenna said.
At all of the events during Care for Coral Week, students can enter their names into a raffle for a prize, announced on Wednesday, March 11.
“Also I thought it'd be good to do it before spring break,” McKenna said. “So if people are going on trips and going diving they’re like ‘Hey, maybe I should get reef-safe sunscreen. Maybe I should look into how healthy the reefs are where I am or the restoration efforts that are in my area.’”
Care for Coral Week begins with a Coral Experts Panel on Monday, March 9 at 7 p.m. in Sheen Auditorium. Panelists include Assistant Professor of Marine Science and Biology Cory Kredeit, two students from Coralisma, an organization dedicated to coral restoration founded by Eckerd students, “Chasing Coral” star Zach Rago, and Heirs to Our Oceans Member Charley Pebler.
“We've got students coming from all areas of the country and so I think bringing awareness to these types of issues is really, really great and to devote an entire week to thinking and talking about coral is super exciting,” Kredeit said.
These panelists will answer questions created by McKenna about their research and restoration efforts. The floor will then open for any questions from the audience.
“Hopefully it's going to lead to a really fruitful discussion from the members of the audience to really ask questions about what we know what we don't know and what we can do moving forward,” Kredeit said.
On Tuesday, March 10, there will be a Do It Yourself (DIY) Sunscreen event at 6 p.m. in Fox Hall. Students will be able to make their own sunscreen using all-natural and reef safe ingredients. Other students will have tables describing their coral research or restoration. Vendors will also be present including Stream2Sea with various products for purchase.
“I hope students walking away inspired maybe they’ll go work with their city council member and make a ban on other sunscreens or make only reef-safe sunscreens allowed,” McKenna said.
To finish off the Care for Coral Week, on Wednesday, March 11, coral enthusiasts will come together on South Beach for a closing celebration, where raffle prize winners will be announced. They can watch the sunset and discuss coral issues and hope for the future.
“We have direct ties,” Kredeit said. “Our behaviors and our activities are directly tied to what happens on the coral reefs. And so it's important for our students to know that we are a coastal campus, we live next door to a treatment plant. And so even though we don't have corals immediately off of South Beach, it's important to realize that what we do on land has direct implications to what's happening in the environment.”
Care for Coral Week is a collaborative effort with the ECOS Environmental Responsibility Committee, the Marine Science Club, ECO REPS, and the EC Makerspace.