CAUSE 2014: Ridge to Reef: Terrestrial Effects on the Near-Shore Marine Realm travelled to Curacao in the Caribbean and explored a range of terrestrial and marine environments with both relatively pristine and degraded land--‐ and seascapes. Humanity directs numerous insults on the marine realm but the near-‐shore marine environment is particularly vulnerable to human activities. Curacao has experienced substantial population growth—increasing stress on near--‐shore marine environments.
Human activities on land, such as changing land use, increased nutrient inputs and degraded water quality, increased sedimentation and refuse disposal, the introduction of invasive species, to name a few have the potential impact the near-‐shore marine environment. These local to regional impacts are superimposed on a background of hemispheric to global scale stressors related to rising sea level, higher frequency of tropical storms, higher sea surface temperatures, and increasing ocean acidification. Combined, these challenge sustainability of near-‐shore marine environments that provide environmental, social and economic benefits to the resident human population. Students had the opportunity to examine both healthy and unhealthy reefs.