- WSL / Kirstin
Tahiti by Drone
The reefs surrounding Tahiti's islands help create some of the best waves in the world -- not to mention a good photo op.

Our ocean's delicate ecosystems are being significantly impacted by the warming planet. Coral reefs, which are home to 25 percent of ocean life, have been feeling the burn, experiencing "bleaching." A coral's loss of color indicates a decline in health -- and ultimately a long, slow death. (Read more about coral bleaching here.)

To help turns things around and prevent further loss, the World Surf League has partnered with the app <a href="https://goflow.me/" target+"_blank">goFlow and Columbia University on a new project called Bleach Patrol. Here are the details on how you can help:

C.J. Hobgood's Ridiculous Tube
Who can forget this barrel from the 2015 Billabong Pro Tahiti? Brought to you by a perfect reef (and a talented surfer).

What Is Bleach Patrol?

It's a citizen science project to study coral bleaching around the world. It involves collaboration between the World Surf League, the social networking app goFlow, and scientists at Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

The goal of the project is to use this smart phone app to monitor coral bleaching events as they occur, in real time, by incorporating reports about bleaching and reef health from citizen scientists around the world. By engaging a worldwide community of people to gather data, the aim is to better understand how these ecosystems are changing now and into the future.

Sally Fitzgibbons at Cloudbreak
In a contest that saw her rupture her eardrum and go on to win it all, Sally Fitzgibbons reveals what can happen when power-turns meet a reefbreak.

How Can You Help?

  1. Download the free <a href="https://goflow.me/" target+"_blank">goFlow app
  2. Head out to your local reef and enjoy the ocean!
  3. Report your observations about coral bleaching and reef health using goFlow.*
    • Go to the Coral Bleaching category inside the app to share your report

The observations you make are sent to the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory's database.

Teahupo'o from another angle. The coral reef that forms Teahupo'o's famous waves is pretty to look at, painful to fall on, and a challenge to surf. - WSL / Kelly Cestari

What Is Coral Bleaching?

Coral reefs are one of the most spectacular ecosystems on Earth. They are built by colonies of tiny animals found in marine waters, and although they cover less than 0.1 percent of the world's ocean surface, they are home for more than 25 percent of all marine species. Unfortunately, coral reefs are becoming susceptible to "bleaching," which occurs when the symbiotic organisms that live within the coral animal and provide most of their food are expelled, usually as a result of rising water temperatures.

Bianca Buitendag vs. Cloudbreak
Buitendag didn't hold back at the 2015 Fiji Women's Pro, despite razor-sharp reef just inches below the surface.

This leaves the coral in a sickened state, from which they can die. As the climate warms and ocean waters heat up, coral bleaching is becoming more frequent and the long-term effects on coral reefs are unknown. Through the direct observation of coral reefs surfers can help scientists with their research -- which will help them understand and protect the delicate ecosystems, and the breaks you love.

World Surf League
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