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URI Bay Campus Lecture Focuses on Coral Reef Conservation

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Narragansett, RI -- September 14, 2004 --The variety of shapes and colors of corals and the myriad of reef fish and other species provide the coral reef unsurpassed beauty. But there is more to coral reefs than beauty. They are an integral part of the ecosystem, and they are being stressed beyond their capacity to recover.

The public is invited to attend the fifteenth annual Charles and Marie Fish Lecture in Oceanography hosted by the URI Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO). This year's lecture, “The Heat Is On: Conserving Coral Reefs to Survive in a Changing Climate,” will be presented by Dr. Rod Salm, director of The Nature Conservancy’s Transforming Coral Reef Conservation Program. The free lecture will be held on Friday, September 24 at noon in Corless Auditorium at the URI Narragansett Bay Campus.

Salm's lecture will focus on coral reefs, among the greatest storehouses of biodiversity on Earth, providing food and income that sustains hundreds of millions of people. While corals have been able to adapt to changing environmental conditions in the past, the current rate of change has drastically increased. The combination of human impacts with climate-related threats, such as rising sea temperature, are stressing corals beyond their capacity to cope. The Nature Conservancy's Transforming Coral Reef Conservation Program helps managers develop new strategies that build resilience in the face of change into their conservation plans to help corals survive.

Raised in Mozambique, Salm has a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University where he wrote his dissertation on coral reef ecology. He has more than 30 year’s experience in international marine conservation and ecotourism. Before joining The Nature Conservancy in 1999, Salm served as the coordinator of Marine and Coastal Conservation Activities for the World Conservation Union Eastern Africa Regional Program based in Kenya. Since the early 1970s, he has worked in and around the Indian Ocean and Arabia, as well as in the Caribbean, Central and South America, and both the Arctic and Antarctic. His focus has been primarily on marine protected areas and integrated coastal management in tropical countries. His research has centered on coral reefs, mangroves, sea turtles, and cetaceans, as well as on estuaries, dugongs, sea- and shorebirds, and walruses. He is the author of several books.

The annual Charles and Marie Fish Lecture in Oceanography is supported by income from the Charlie and Bobbie Fish Endowment for Oceanography, established in 1989 by Marilyn Fish Munro in memory of her parents.

An oceanographer who specialized in marine zooplankton, Charles J. Fish started URI’s first marine biological program as part of the Department of Zoology. His wife, Marie Poland Fish, well known for her pioneering work on the fish of Lake Erie, later became a world expert in marine acoustics. It was through their joint efforts that a graduate program in oceanography was established at the Narragansett Marine Laboratory, which later became the URI Graduate School of Oceanography.

Past presenters of the prestigious Fish Lecture include Sir Crispin Tickell, British permanent representative to the United Nations and the Security Council; Charles Alexander, senior editor at Time magazine; Dr. Sylvia Earle, advisor to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); Dr. Bruce Robison, senior scientist at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute; educator and naturalist Richard Wheeler; Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, NOAA Chief Scientist and former astronaut; Dr. Orrin Pilkey, Professor of Geology at Duke University; Dr. John Morrissey, president of the American Elasmobranch (shark and rays) Society; Dr. Carl Safina, founding director of the Audubon Society’s Living Oceans Program for marine conservation; Sandy Tolan, freelance journalist and independent radio producer; Dr. Cindy Lee Van Dover, a faculty member in the Biology Department at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia; Dr. Robert Ballard, deep sea explorer and discoverer of the Titanic; and Dr. Michael Vecchione, a cephalapod biologist with NOAA Fisheries and the Smithsonian Institution.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Seating is limited and available on a first come-first serve basis. Call the URI Office of Marine Programs at (401) 874-6211 for more information or directions.