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Coastal Connections

A person waist-deep in a clear blue ocean, inspects a rope of greenish beige seaweed. In the background, people on the beach.
In Belize, seaweed farming provides a sustainable source of food and income while restoring the aquatic ecosystem.
Photo by Mary Tao
A woman in waterproof jacket, pants, and big sloves smiles aboard a boat in a bay.
Allison Tracey, a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, conducts fieldwork with the Fisheries Conservation Lab.
Photo courtesy of Chesapeake Working Land and Seascapes
Overhead closeup of a person sitting cross-legged on a woven straw mat, weaving a green palm leaf  into a circular shape.
The villages in the wetland areas of Fiji have been deeply affected by habitat destruction and urban drift to large cities. Women artisans of Rise Beyond the Reef see an opportunity to tackle these challenges through centuries-old craft traditions.
Photo by Mimi Robinson

Our oceans are a source of food and revenue for billions of people. Over forty percent of the world’s population lives and works along coastlines. These fragile areas are extremely vulnerable to pollution and climate change, including rising sea levels and extreme weather events.

How do oyster reefs, coral reefs, and mangroves help protect shorelines against climate change? How are communities incorporating traditional knowledge to restore and sustain the valuable resources of our oceans?

At the 2022 Folklife Festival, we visited the places where land and sea meet and interact with community members who are protecting, reclaiming, and ensuring the future of these fascinating ecosystems.

Visitors learned how the humble oyster is the foundation of the Chesapeake Bay watershed’s local ecosystem and economy and meet the people who are fostering the return and continued health of oysters in the bay.

We discovered how communities in Belize use local livelihoods and traditions to contribute to the health of mangroves, seagrass, and coral reef ecosystems. 
Vistors met women artisans in Fiji, who preserve traditional skills like weaving sea grasses and carry on practices such as celestial navigation to protect the knowledge of living sustainably in their coastal habitats.

Story Circles

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