Dear CCT-US Members, Foundation Donors, and Concerned Environmentalists,
The purpose of this message is (1) to inform you about the status of the coral reefs in the Chagos Archipelago, and (2) to stress the urgency of a response to the situation.
In most years, the sea surface temperature in the Chagos tends to decline in May from a peak in March-April. Reports coming back from the archipelago indicate that the usual decline has not happened this year, however, which spells bad news for the corals of the Chagos atolls. Instead of declining, water temperatures are continuing to rise and the latest predictions have them remaining elevated for a while yet and at a level which will threaten the survival of the reefs. Should this occur, we can anticipate wide-scale coral mortality to be reported by the next scientific expedition to measure this on reefs which will reach the archipelago later in the year. We now know for certain that the reefs of the Maldives, situated only 500 km north of Chagos, have already been severely damaged by the elevated temperature of the central Indian Ocean. The news is equally bleak from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and we should prepare for the fact that 2016 might even be worse than the last global coral die-off which occurred in 1998.
Against this backdrop, I believe that I have legitimate urgency to call upon your patronage of CCT-US to enable us to support the pressing evaluation of the status of the Chagos reefs which must be prioritized by the upcoming missions to the archipelago. This fantastic wilderness, the largest no-take marine protected area on Earth, is facing a colossal challenge, and this is why I write to you. Your generous donations will help us continue to fund scientific expeditions to Chagos to enable comprehensive assessment of coral vitality and to implement remedial measures where we can. Thank you for your support.
With best regards,
Chair of the CCT-US