Coral Reef Conservation: Why Is It Important?

I was twelve years old the first time I went scuba diving.  Ever since, I have begged to go diving on every family vacation.  This past summer, an instructor reiterated a warning I had heard many times before­­­­­­-to ensure that I did not disturb the coral while diving.  Curious, I asked my instructor why this was so important.  He explained to me that any form of physical contact will damage corals beyond repair, especially hitting them with scuba flippers.  Many snorkelers and scuba divers are unaware of this and unknowingly damage the corals while swimming.  This is not the only danger to corals, which are one of the most intricate and diverse ecosystems on Earth.

Many do not realize how important coral reefs are to marine environments, marine life, and even human life.  Humans depend on corals for tourism, fishing, and even ingredients for medicines.   Millions of species of marine life around the world depend upon coral reefs to live and vice versa.  However, these symbiotic relationships are being threatened, affecting much more than just the coral reefs themselves.

The first piece included in my bibliography, published by the Smithsonian, informs readers on the importance of coral reefs to humans, marine life, and the environment.  This piece explains why coral reefs are important to humans, marine life, and the environment.  Additionally, this piece reveals what threatens reefs-high temperatures, pollution, erosion, and human activities-and why we must conserve them. Next in my bibliography, Corals and Human Disturbance expands upon the Smithsonian’s examples of how humans harm reefs.  This article is perhaps the most important because it enlightens humans on what they are doing to cause harm to coral reefs.  Humans mine corals, bomb them for fishing, drop boat anchors on them, and litter and pollute the waters reefs live in.  Last in my bibliography is an academic article from a science magazine containing evidence of how rising water temperatures is killing corals.  My first source, “Corals and Coral Reefs,” explains that because corals are so important to both marine and human life, these types of coral deaths are an enormous problem.  Some corals cannot recover after rising temperatures or human damage, and the ones that can reproduce too slowly to sustain such an intricate ecosystem.

Annotated Bibliography

Ocean Portal Team. “Corals and Coral Reefs.” Smithsonian Ocean Portal. Ed. Nancy Knowlton. Smithsonian, 12 Sept. 2012. Web. 09 Apr. 2016.

This Smithsonian article offers a highly informative look at coral reefs.  The Ocean Portal team explains the importance of coral reefs to both humans and ocean species, with nearly “one quarter of all ocean species depending on reefs for food.”  Coral reefs are considered by many to be the most important ecosystem in the seas.  Humans depend on reefs for multiple reasons, including “providing food, protection of shorelines, jobs based on tourism, and even medicines.”  This website explains that coral reefs are made up of many diverse kinds of living coral.  Coral reefs are only found in shallow tropical waters around the world.  Coral reefs reproduce very slowly, and are easily destroyed.

For this reason, conserving reefs is of the utmost importance.  The biggest threat to coral reefs is “rising water temperatures and ocean acidification linked to rising carbon dioxide levels.”  This causes coral bleaching, or chemically turning the coral white.  Soil erosion also damages reefs.  Humans can damage the reefs by dropping boat anchors or touching the reefs while diving or snorkeling, causing the coral to die.  Preserving coral reefs is important for both ocean life and humans.

Pilcher, Nicolas J. “Corals and Human Disturbance.” Corals and Human Disturbance. UNEP, n.d. Web. 9 Apr. 2016.

Pilcher introduces this informative piece on how humans disturb corals by explaining the basic physical features of coral reefs and how they operate in marine ecosystems.  Humans negatively influence corals in many ways.  Firstly, corals are mined to be used in construction.  This causes many marine animals to lose a home.  Next, humans destroy corals with destructive fishing, or dropping small bombs into the water to reveal and stun fish.  This fishing method causes craters in reefs.  The chemicals in bombs used for this method can also kill corals.  Humans also harm coral reefs by polluting the waters they live in.  Runoff from both industrial and domestic sources poison reefs.  Pilcher also describes how humans damage reefs by port activity, tourism, and even littering.

“The Great Coral Die-Off.” New Scientist 228.3043 (2015): 6. Academic Search Premier. Web. 9 Apr. 2016.

Last year the “US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared a global coral bleaching event.”  Coral bleaching occurs when water temperature rises for more than a one month period.  This causes coral to “expel the algae that live inside of them and provide them with food.”  After losing this algae the coral will turn white.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration claims that around “38 percent of coral will be bleached this year.”  Some corals can recover from bleaching while others cannot, risking around five percent of the world’s coral to be lost.  The NOAA believes that coral bleaching can “affect hundreds of millions of people who rely on coral reefs for their livelihoods and for protection from storm surge.”    Scientists are hoping that this bleaching event helps corals learn how to adapt and cope in order to recover.



Commentary on Paul Muldoon’s Poem

Paul Muldoon is a poet featured in Lenoir Rhyne’s Visiting Writers Series.  Muldoon’s poem, Hedgehog, starts off by introducing a snail compared to a hovercraft.  Muldoon describes the snail as having a secret which he shares with a hedgehog.  Muldoon expresses his desire for the hedgehog to open up to him and allow himself love.  Muldoon says he wants the hedgehog to allow him to ask questions and give him responses.  The hedgehog hides everything, including himself, and Muldoon wonders why the hedgehog does not trust.  Muldoon says that he has a god under his thorns.  Muldoon says that a god cannot ever trust the earth again.  Personally, I found this poem difficult to interpret. Muldoon’s poem makes me consider animals’ roles in our world.  The last stanza in Muldoon’s poem makes me wonder why Muldoon thinks a god will never trust this world.

Commentary on Anne Lamott’s “Shitty First Drafts”

Anne Lamott is one of the authors featured in the Lenoir-Rhyne Visiting Writers Series.  In an excerpt from one of Lamott’s books called “Shitty First Drafts” Lamott explains her own writing process.    Lamott explains that it is impossible to write an amazing first draft.  Anne describes that the only way she knows how to write is just to force herself to get something down, her first draft being the child’s draft.  A first draft is messy and not contained at all.  Lamott’s writing process continues with sitting down and marking her draft up, xing things out.  This continues through the very end of her writing process, because Anne believes all good writing begins with an awful first draft.  Lamott’s excerpt shows that her writing as I am currently reading it did not begin so eloquently.  It began in a state of confusion and distress and was shaped and edited to become the piece I read today.

Why Moving Abroad Won’t Save You From Trump

Garrison Keillor is an author featured in the Lenoir Rhyne Visiting Writers Series.  Keillor recently published a piece in The Washington Post titled “Think moving abroad will save you from Trump? Think again.”  Keillor explains that many Americans have expressed their desire to move abroad if Trump wins the presidency.  Keillor goes on to remind Americans that their ancestors moved here to get away from violent massacring tyrants- which Keillor believes Trump is none of.  Keillor writes that Trump as president would merely  “sit in his tower and twitter”(Keillor).  In Keillor’s personal experience an American cannot escape Trump abroad because foreigners would recognize the American accent and ask about Donald Trump.  Keillor believes the only place to escape Trump would be in New York due to Trump’s business history in the state.  Keillor humorously describes Trump as “the great white snapping turtle,” “a toasted bagel,” and “vulgarity on wheels”(Keillor). As a student of writing, I can learn from Keillor’s piece that it is possible to make points without blatantly stating them.  For example, comparing trump to a bagel and mentioning only trivial parts of Trump’s life show the reader Keillor’s opinion of Trump without actually stating it.    This negative opinion of Trump is reinforced a few times throughout Keillor’s article.  Keillor’s negative perpetration of Donald Trump prompted me to wonder what Keillor’s reasons for this negative view are.  What evidence does Keillor have to back up that Trump will do nothing except tweet?

Keillor Garrison. “Think Moving Abroad will Save You from Trump? Think Again.” Washington Post. Washington Post, 16 Mar. 2016. Web. 3 April 2016.

Rooming With a Stranger: A Necessary Evil?

Jane L’Amoreaux

English 131 02

Professor Lucas

7 February 2016

Rooming With a Stranger: A Necessary Evil?

            In The New York Times’ blog post: “A College Education Should Include Rooming with a Stranger” Anna Altman reports on the positive and negative effects of how freshman find roommates.  Living with a complete stranger risks incompatibility.  However, random and indiscriminant selection allows students the opportunity to experience new things, such as other races and cultures.  Roommates have a profound influence on each other in many ways, including studying, partying, and even personal health habits.  Personally, I see both positive and negative aspects of the different methods by which freshman find roommates.  Therefore, I, as a high school senior, have chosen to select my roommate based on certain preferences while still choosing a stranger.

College requires an enormous social change for freshman students (Altman).  Facing this change “makes roommates all the more important” (Altman).  Many colleges randomly select roommates. Some allow students to ask for preferences, such as how neat one keeps their room (Altman).  Some “colleges are hiring companies like RoomSync, a Facebook app that helps you match with like-minded users” (Altman).  The goal of this is to reduce the likelihood that one’s roommate is incompatible and does not work out.  Some colleges have begun placing freshman in single rooms in response to this issue.  However, Altman states that websites such as RoomSync and single rooms can “limit a freshman’s experience” (Altman).  Living with someone entirely different allows students to experience new things.  Additionally, learning how to compromise and prevent conflict is important to learn for adulthood “in both work and personal contexts” (Qtd. in Altman).  Harry Frankenfeld, a college graduate, states that his college living situations helped him “learn to be less self-centered” and that “roommates are good for us” (Qtd. in Altman).

Being forced out of one’s comfort zone is “one of the main points of college” according to Professor Sacerdote of Dartmouth University (Qtd. In Altman).  Professor Sacerdote studies the effects that roommates have on each other.  Random assignment to a student of a different race makes the roommates “more comfortable with interracial interaction” (Qtd. in Altman).   Rooming with an unfamiliar person will likely push students outside of their comfort zone, but can allow a student to experience new things.  For example, a Caucasian Christian may be paired with an Arab Muslim.  Both of these students will likely experience and learn new things about the other’s race and culture.  Professor Sacerdote says that “interactions across race or socioeconomic status are greatly enhanced by mixing of rooming groups” (Altman).  Living with a randomly selected stranger can bring unforeseen issues, which require students to learn to compromise and maturely handle issues that arise.  Due to differences not taken into consideration in random arrangements, problems may occur.

While there are positive aspects to randomly selected college roommates, this method does not account for unforeseen issues.  Some disputes are irreconcilable.  Roommates that do not get along and cannot compromise will either live in an unhealthy situation for a year, or be forced to move.  With the stress of adjusting to a new environment and schoolwork, an unanticipated second move would be unfavorable.  New York Times author Natasha Singer writes that “getting stuck with an incompatible freshman-year roommate” causes many problems, including moving, fights, and even dropping out (Qtd. in Altman).  Some colleges and universities offer an option that attempts to eliminate conflicting lifestyles through preference surveys.

Many universities have attempted to increase the likelihood of compatible roommates by allowing students a survey to better understand what aspects of a roommate matter most to them, such as an early-riser or late sleeper.  Some colleges have even hired companies such as “RoomSync, a Facebook app that helps you match with like-minded users” (Altman).  These companies ask participants about habits, such as cleanliness, partying, and studying.  This way, the site can match students to other students with the same preferences and habits.  However, author Stephanie Wu believes that this limits a freshman’s experience by not allowing them to witness new things.  Personally, I believe that the partially random roommate is a good concept and can be expanded on to be successful.  If students were allowed to choose basic preferences such as cleanliness and partying habits, but not aspects such as religion and physical appearance, this would eliminate basic problem-causing differences while still allowing students to experience differences in culture and race.

Forcing students into a situation they are not comfortable or compatible with will only cause issues.  If schools allowed students the option to go completely random or choose their roommate, they would bestow the responsibility of what experience the student gets on the student.  For example, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill allows students both of these options.  If students choose to select their own roommate, he or she can still be a stranger.  Many students at Chapel Hill find a completely unfamiliar student to room with using sites such as Roomsurf and the UNC Facebook page.  This method not only allows students control over their roommates, but also allows control over staying in or leaving their comfort zones as well.  College students should be responsible for their own experiences.  If a student chooses not to stray from his or her comfort zone at all, then that affects only that student’s college experience.  Jessica L’Amoreaux, a college student at Chapel Hill, found her roommate using the UNC Facebook page.  She liked this method because “there were some basic things I needed to have in my roommate.  I would have been unhappy with a roommate who had no ambition to study, or had different social preferences” (L’Amoreaux).  Jessica also said “I would not have done it a different way” (L’Amoreaux).

While choosing her own roommate worked for Jessica, many students are not so lucky.  Many students are dissatisfied with their roommates, whether they chose them or were randomly paired together.  Even students who are allowed to choose their roommate are not always happy with their living situation.  There is no guarantee that any student knows what is best for themself.    Roommates are an enormous part of the freshman college experience.  It is important to room with a compatible student to avoid problems.  However, being compatible does not ensure that one’s roommate is not different from them.  For these reasons, I personally have chosen to combine the ideas of rooming with a stranger and choosing specific preferences.

Work Cited

Altman, Anna. “A College Education Should Include Rooming With a Stranger.” OpTalk A College Education Should Include Rooming With a Stranger Comments. New York Times, 7 Sept. 2014. Web. 07 Feb. 2016.

L’Amoreaux, Jessica. “College Roommate Search.” Telephone interview. 8 Feb. 2016.


Declining By Degrees 2/4

Declining by Degrees is a documentary revealing the negative side of college education.  This documentary displayed how many college students are overwhelmed and end up slipping through the cracks, and not finishing college.  Students in this film described how teachers gave them little or no motivation to complete their schoolwork.  Professors even stated that they knew students would not do the reading, and therefore did not grade them on it.  Other problems included that colleges were essentially only interested in the profit they can make, and that not enough help was available to students.  Personally, I am immensely interested in the statements students made saying that not enough help was available, and also the professor’s comment about not grading her students.  Several students in this film stated that they were unaware that help was available to them.  I believe that if these students took responsibility for their own education, they would have spent an increased amount of effort searching for assistance.  Help will come much faster if one lets others know that they need it.  These students claimed that by the time they knew these programs were available, it was too late.  I think these students could have done more on their own to seek out help.  Additionally, one professor’s comment-that she does not grade her students because she knows they do not do the readings- interests me.  I am a firm believer in the economic principle that humans respond to incentives.  Not grading the students gives them no incentive to do their homework, and will therefore encourage them that doing the homework is not necessary.  The professor said that she did not want her students to fail, but if they cared about their grades they would start to do their homework if she gave them an incentive to do so.  Overall, Declining by Degrees is an enlightening documentary on issues in college.  However, I think these issues could be addressed to make college educations more of a positive experience for everyone.  I believe that the responsibility for these changes falls on both students and professors, and that they must work with one another to make the necessary changes.

Snow Day poem blog 1/27

In Billy Collins’ poem “Snow Day,” the effect of snow on a town is described through many literary devices.  Collins begins by describing snow as a white flag of peace, and describes how common town buildings are lost under it.  The speaker claims he will eventually venture outside, but for now listens to school closings and the radio.  The end of the poem describes how the speaker is listening hard through the silence to hear what three girls near a fence are discussing.

I particularly enjoyed Collins’ depiction of snow as a white flag waving over everything.  This almost seems to cause snow to be viewed as a peaceful new beginning.  The rest of the poem continues to perpetuate the idea of snow as peaceful, using descriptions such as “noiseless drift”(Collins 8) and “silence of the snow”(Collins 42).  Collins may have chosen this idea because he personally finds snow calming and peaceful.