Coral Reef Research from Indonesia Presented at the 13th International Coral Reef Symposium in Hawaii by Andriana Fragola
My name is Andriana Fragola and I am a recent graduate of Seton Hall University. My passion is environmental activism, in particular ocean conservation. I traveled to Raja Ampat, Indonesia in June 2015 to work with the NGO Barefoot Conservation, located within the coral triangle in the Pacific Ocean. Raja Ampat is widely known to be one of the most diverse and healthy coral reef ecosystems in the world.
There I conducted research evaluating coral reef health at two different reef sites. The first reef had noticeable human disturbances including a local fish farm, and shipping detritus strewn about the reef and seemed to be in poor health due to vast amounts of algal coverage and low coral diversity. The second site did not have any observable human impacts and appeared much healthier observed through a much lower algal cover and greater coral diversity.
As an Undergraduate student, I was ecstatic to have been chosen to present my research at the prestigious 13th International Coral Reef Symposium. A majority of the people in attendance would be graduate and post-doctoral individuals who have made a career out of marine science and ocean conservation. I was not only excited to be presenting my research, but to also have the incredible opportunity to network with the so many different people from all around the world.
Funding was one of my biggest challenges in attending the conference. Since I was not a part of a lab, and my research was not supported by a grant program, it was very difficult to gain much needed financial support. My University covered my registration fee for the conference and I received a few donations from family and friends, but additional funding was vital since the trip was going to be very expensive. I met Angie Cowan from NAUI at the Beneath the Sea Marine Careers Workshop in New Jersey and we discussed my project. She connected me with Sam Richardson on NAUI funding for my trip. Sam was able to provide funds from the NAUI Green Diver Initiative Dive4Change Grant Program. With that funding, I knew attending the conference was now a reality.
The entire week at the International Coral Reef Symposium was an incredible experience. Over the next five days, and I was able to attend a “Getting Published” workshop, nearly one hundred oral talks and presentations and spoke with many different scientists and policy makers from international locations. As a student I was given the opportunity to participate in mentor lunches with successful scientists Robert Steneck and Laurence J. McCook. Having the opportunity to network with such advanced professionals in my field was a spectacular opportunity. I now have contacts with people from different organizations who I can reach out to in the future once I am finished with Graduate School. There were also plenary speakers such as the President of Palau Tommy Remengesau, marine biologists Jeremy Jackson, Nancy Knowlton, Terry Hughes, and social scientist Joshua Cinner. I received feedback of my poster presentation and it was overwhelming to see other people so excited about the research I conducted in Indonesia.
The entire conference focused on bridging science to policy for the future protection of the world’s coral reefs. It was eye opening to see the innovation and success in the establishment of Marine Parks, and coral out-planting. A common theme seen in many of the oral presentations is that there is still a lot of work that must be done in order to sustain coral reefs now and for the future. The conference energized me as I begin studies for Graduate School at the University of Miami to advance my skills and learn more about how I can start my career in Ocean Conservation. I am deeply thankful to NAUI and their Green Diver Initiative Dive4Change Grant Program for making this experience possible.
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