Dr. David Smith leads Earthwatch in the Seychelles in researching coral reefs to learn how to protect them from overuse and climate change.
Why Coral Reefs?
“There are many different reasons why coral reefs are important,” Dr. Smith said in a 2012 interview. “One of the most obvious ones is the number of people they support - an estimated half a billion. That number is expected to double in the next fifty years to a billion. And these are not overinflated estimates. At the same time as that billion is reached, the amount of reef available is expected to halve because of current impacts: overexploitation, the potential consequences of climate change. It doesn’t take a mathematician to realize that we are reaching a very pivotal point, that if we don’t do something about it - actively manage the system, start to understand how we can mitigate some of the impacts of climate change, find alternative incomes and food security for the billion people - then, quite easily, the reefs could disappear as we know them.”
Why Field Research?
“I went to a college in London which had a tradition of running expeditions, and I ran an expedition out to Belize, living on an island for 10 weeks. The whole experience of living on a coral island and diving three or four times a day, that life experience, just completely changed what I wanted to do for a living. Before that, I wanted to study marine biology but I wasn’t really sure where my career was going.”