This week, John Kelly, a Washington Post Metro section columnist caught our eye with a story about Bruce Butterworth, a D.C. resident who has been snorkeling and diving since the 1980s and has witnessed first-hand the decline of coral reefs. Two years ago, he learned that in the Coral Triangle of Indonesia, pristine reefs remain but they are threatened with the “crown of thorns” starfish or COT that can grow to be as big as a trash can lid and consume huge amounts of coral. Local Indonesians could eradicate these pesky COTs but they needed snorkeling gear that isolated communities there simply did not have.
So Butterworth started collecting masks and fins and snorkels with the help of several dive shops, including Blue Planet in Washington, D.C. and Florida’s Force-E Scuba among others, which served as collection points. Cathay Pacific and Garuda Indonesia Airlines waived the baggage fees and Butterworth and friends delivered the first batch of equipment in March. Now Blue Planet and Butterworth are organizing trips back to Indonesia with more gear in November and December. Butterworth and his friends believe it is important for people everywhere to save the reefs in Indonesia — we all need to be ocean stewards even if we live thousands of miles away. We at ODP could not agree more! As a recent scientific study in the Journal Nature concluded, biodiversity is very important to the “function of coral reefs,” and “the loss of coral species richness may trigger negative feedback that causes further ecosystem decline.” We need to do everything we can to conserve the rainforests of the sea. If you want to help, you can donate equipment to by emailing Butterworth here, or by donating to the Trees to Seas Foundation here.