Coral Communities in the Seychelles

Ocean Health

Coral Communities in the Seychelles

Coral reefs are under serious threat. How can we help protect them and still benefit from their rich resources?

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The facts

Why the research is important

Why the research is important

Corals are powered by single-celled algae that live in their tissues and require sunlight for photosynthesis.

Scientists estimate that human threats, including global warming, could kill 30 percent of existing coral reefs in the next 30 years.

This research focuses on reef-building corals, the key architects of their ecosystems. The growth of these corals (which is powered by the single-celled algae that live in them) forms reef structures. Their health and productivity largely determine the overall biodiversity—the variety of forms of life—of a reef system.

The researchers also pay close attention to the types and abundance of coral reef fish, because they are excellent indicators of the overall health of a reef. By focusing on these two areas—fish life and the corals themselves—the researchers can link how healthy a reef is—that is, how many and what kinds of fish it is supporting—to the condition of the coral. Ultimately, they hope to understand how vulnerable key coral species are to environmental stress like climate change, and identify what conditions enhance the corals’ tolerance of this stress.

Tropical fish, Seychelles

Help assess the health of one of the world’s most stunning coral reefs.

Gaining a better understanding of how reefs work is only the first step. These researchers then translate their work into practice by providing policymakers and local people with the information they need to counteract the threats to coral reefs. By supporting this research, you support policy and education that could save some of the world’s most beautiful and diverse ecosystems.

About the research area

Curieuse Island, Seychelles, Africa

Daily life in the field


This is a summary:

The Scientists


Professor and Director of the Coral Reef Research Unit, University of Essex

ABOUT David Smith

Dr. David Smith leads Earthwatch in the Seychelles in researching coral reefs to learn how to protect them from overuse and climate change.



Accommodations and Food

Accommodations and Food


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