Running for Reefs

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Published on September 23rd, 2011  |  Discuss This Article  

Stephanie Wear is a marine scientist with The Nature Conservancy’s Global Marine Team. She is currently working to improve tools that build resilience in coral reef communities so that coral reefs survive the impacts of a changing climate.

Get instant access to her work and her training by following @stephwear on Twitter. And you can help her reach her goal of raising $5,000 for the Conservancy’s coral reef conservation work by donating here.

I spend most of my waking hours thinking about how to reverse the trends we are seeing in coral reefs globally. If you listen to the headlines, coral reefs are on a fast track to extinction. Although I know that coral reefs are under serious threat, I also know that we have the ability to do something about it. The Nature Conservancy is working around the world to address the threats facing coral reefs, with places like Palau showing us that there is hope.

Why should you care about coral reefs? They truly are the proverbial canary in the coalmine, giving us a preview of what will happen as the impacts of climate change become more extreme. If we don’t figure out how to address these problems, we are likely to see similar declines in other ecosystems. All of these natural systems are important to human life on earth. For example, coral reefs provide food to billions of people, jobs, coastal security and more recently, life-saving medicines.

Yet we ask even more of them, and frankly, we are asking too much. We overfish, pollute and crowd our coastlines, ultimately suffocating nearby reefs. The good news is that we don’t have to do this. We can make smart choices, plan coastal development better and use better fishing strategies. We are working to do this and I am convinced we will see positive changes in the coming years.

Inspired by the commitment others have made to save these threatened treasures, I decided to do something I’ve never done in my life—run. For the health of reefs and myself, I decided to run a half-marathon and raise $5,000 towards the Conservancy’s coral reef conservation work.

I am two weeks away from race day and am confident it is the most difficult fundraising I’ve ever done! I’ve literally trained all over the world, from the vineyards of France, the farms of the Netherlands, the beaches and swamps of Florida, to the hills of San Francisco. That is the beauty of running – you can do it anywhere. I’ve come across endangered gopher tortoises, jogged with pelicans, scared the daylights out of a sheep and saved a rabbit from certain death.

All along this journey, and especially when it has gotten tough, I’ve reminded myself that I am doing this for coral reefs and for all the people that have entrusted me with their hard-earned money to protect them.

Please join me as I complete my goal by donating to my personal fundraiser or sending words of encouragement – everything counts!

(Image credit: ©Steph Wear)

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