If you happen to be in the Washington, D.C. area, you can view the Smithsonian Community Reef until April 24, 2011 in the newly-built Sant Ocean Hall, Focus Gallery, Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, Washington D.C.
There are also several Satellite Reefs that may be closer to where you live. The nearest one for me would be at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
You can find instructions on hyperbolic crochet and have a go at crocheting your own coral or learn how to start up a Satellite Reef in your community if you so desire. Just click on the Smithsonian.
If you are an educator and want to introduce your students to the coral reef, there is learning material provided on the Smithsonian as well. You can also visit the CROCHET CORAL REEF blog for more interesting information.
Coral reefs are known as the “rainforests of the sea.” They cover less than
one percent of Earth’s surface, but are home to one quarter of known marine
fish species. Scientists estimate that there are one to eight million
undiscovered species living in and around the reef.
Just like species in the rain forest, reef animals and plants contain medicinal
compounds, many of which are just being discovered. Several important
drugs have already been developed from chemicals found in coral reef
organisms. AZT, a treatment for people with HIV infections, is based on
chemicals extracted from a Caribbean reef sponge. Compounds from coral
reefs have also yielded treatments for cardiovascular diseases, ulcers,
leukemia, and skin cancer. In addition, coral's unique skeletal structure has
been used to make the most advanced forms of bone grafting materials.
More than half of all new cancer drug research focuses on marine organisms.
Coral reefs are in trouble around the globe. Already, 20% of the world’s
coral reefs have been lost and another 16% were severely damaged during
the 1998 El Niño event. Scientists predict that another 25% may be lost by
the year 2035 if human threats are not reduced.
I hope you found this information interesting. The Human Spirit never ceases to amaze me and I dare to imagine what we could accomplish if we were all of one mind - if even just for a moment!
Rock on, gals!
All the photos here are from the Smithsonian website. I was not actually there. I may go to Gainesville, FL, to see one of the Satellite Reefs.