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Coral Ecosystems

Human and Natural Impacts!
web seminar player window The first of two Web Seminars on NOAA’s Coral Ecosystems was held on Wednesday, May 10, 2006, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. The presenter was Kelly Drinnen, education specialist at NOAA’s Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Ms. Drinnen’s presentation focused on the impacts of humans and nature affecting coral reefs. Among the participants were teachers who had attended the face-to-face symposium at the NSTA National Conference in Science Education in Anaheim, CA.

The session started with a general overview of the NSTA Web Seminar tools and how they can be used to facilitate interaction between the participants and the presenters. Seventy-four participants were present in addition to the presenter and the NSTA staff. Participating educators represented the states of Alabama, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Drinnen started the presentation with a map of the United States that shows the states that drain their waters into the Gulf of Mexico. Amazingly, most states in our country do! She used this image to emphasize the idea that “we all live upstream” and hence our actions affect the health of the Gulf and the animals that live in it. From there on, Kelly Drinnen talked about natural and human activities that impact the health of coral reefs. She talked about watersheds, and storms, weather, and fishing. Every time, pausing to ask, what can we do? Several participants had ideas on ways they could contribute to lessen the impacts on coral reefs. For example, providing education to all about the potential effects of fertilizers, disposal of trash, and volunteering to assist scientists in their efforts to save the reefs.

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Ms. Drinnen continued to talk about other factors affecting coral reefs, like animals, fishing, disease, and oil and gas. She described the negative impact that invasive species can bring to coral reefs. By affecting the food chain and expected balance of life, indirectly, invasive species can be harmful to coral reefs. During the presentation, Dr. Mark Eakin, also from NOAA, answered questions in the chat window and a couple of times responded to specific questions via phone. Throughout the presentation there were several opportunities for the participants to interact with each other and with the presenter by answering a poll question, chatting, stamping, and marking on the slides.

Here are some comments provided by the participants at the end of the Web Seminar:
  • "Invasive species and human impact information was the most interesting.
    I learned that sea urchins can actually be helpful, I thought they were more
    of a problem.”
  • “I love being able to learn without traveling several hundred miles to do so.”
  • “I enjoyed the information presented about the coral most - growth rate,
    lifespan after bleaching, etc. I learned about the dead zone off Louisiana's
    coast and about the net zone in the Pacific.”
  • “I brushed up on a lot of marine biology and learned many causes of coral
    destruction that I had not thought of or knew existed prior to this. I enjoyed
    the speaker and was encouraged that she was a forth grade teacher. Great
    new NSTA partner!”

Thanks to the participants and Ms. Drinnen for the learning opportunity, the interactions, and a job well done!

Web Seminar I Resources


See a recorded version of the Web Seminar.


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Underwritten in part by: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration