John Burns, who teaches and does coral research at UH Hilo, talks about the health of coral reefs in Hawai‘i and globally, as well as what changes in reefs reveal about the health of the ocean and planet.
In an interview produced by Waterloop, a communications organization producing podcasts and videos of conversations and commentary about water, Assistant Professor of Marine Science John Burns explains the critical importance of coral reefs to the ocean ecosystem and coastal communities. The marine scientist, who teaches and does research at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, talks about the health of coral reefs in Hawai‘i and globally, as well as what changes in reefs reveal about the health of the ocean and planet. Burns also discusses the science behind Hawai‘i’s ban on sunscreens with oxybenzone and octinoxate and how these chemicals may impact coral reefs.
Assistant Professor Burns, an alumnus of UH Hilo, is a research scientist at the university who studies coral health and disease. He investigates the physiological impacts of disease on affected corals and how coral mortality affects the ecology and biology of coral reef ecosystems. He is continuously searching for drivers of coral diseases in order to promote healthy coral ecosystems in the face of global stressors such as climate change. His expertise led to his inclusion in the award-winning documentaries, Chasing Coral, Reefs at Risk, and Island Earth. Burns recently developed innovative techniques to create three-dimensional maps of coral reefs to accurately measure how natural and human-induced disturbances impact ecosystem function. His research has been presented at scientific conferences around the globe and he has authored multiple publications in international peer-reviewed journals.
The interviewer is Travis Loop, president and founder of Waterloop. He is a communications and media expert with a focus on water and environmental issues.