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Reef Fest aims to help save coral reefs

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

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Media Contact: Sue Stevens

ARLINGTON - Researchers from a University of Texas at Arlington Department of Biology lab that focuses on coral reef biology are organizing a fundraiser for coral reef research and conservation. The event, Reef Fest, is part of a nationwide series designed to raise awareness of the current state of coral reefs and the need to conserve these important ecosystems.

The local Reef Fest will be held from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m. Saturday, August 23, at Rahr Brewery, 701 Galveston Ave. in Fort Worth and will feature a concert from four local bands and a raffle of goods and services by area businesses and artists. The event will also provide educational outreach, with exhibits about coral reefs and informational booths from organizations taking steps to involve the public in both coral reef conservation and other environmental issues. There is a $15 cover charge for the band and free beer will be available. All profits from the event will be used to support the Texas Flower Gardens Banks National Marine Sanctuary.

The Reef Fest Fund is an official project of the International Year of the Reef 2008 and is sponsored by organizations such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the National Coral Reef Institute (NCRI). Originally taking place in South Florida, it has grown with groups like the researchers in UT Arlington’s Mydlarz Lab independently organizing events around the country. Visit www.iyor.org for information on the International Year of the Reef.

The Myrdlarz Lab, headed by Assistant Professor Laura D. Mydlarz, is working to characterize how corals fight infections and what effect climate change has on coral disease resistance. The researchers, including post-doctoral associate Laura R. Hunt, who organized the local Reef Fest, graduate student Elizabeth S. McGinty and undergraduates Anh Pham, Jandira Lima, and Sandra Victor work on projects pertaining to coral immunity and disease. The group has just returned from the International Coral Reef Symposium held in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in July.

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