Thomas J. Goreau, Ph.D.
Global Coral Reef Alliance
37 Pleasant Street
Cambridge MA  02139

  • Brief Biography

    Tom Goreau 

    Dr. Tom Goreau is President of the Global Coral Reef Alliance, a non-profit organization for coral reef protection and sustainable management, and Coordinator of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development Partnership in New Technologies for Small Island Developing States.

    He has dived longer and in more coral reefs around the world than any coral scientist. His father was the world’s first diving marine scientist, and he grew up swimming in coral reefs as soon as he could walk.

    He was previously Senior Scientific Affairs Officer at the United Nations Centre for Science and Technology for Development, in charge of global climate change and biodiversity issues.

    He has published around 200 papers in all areas of coral reef ecology, and on global climate change, the global carbon cycle, stabilization of atmospheric CO2, changes in global ocean circulation, tropical deforestation and reforestation, microbiology, marine diseases, soil science, atmospheric chemistry, community-based coastal zone management, mathematical modeling of climate records, visualizing turbulent flow around marine organisms, scientific photography, and other fields.

    He developed the method to predict the location, timing, and severity of coral bleaching from satellite data with Ray Hayes.

    He holds patents with the late Wolf Hilbertz for new methods for preserving coral reefs from global warming and pollution, restoring marine ecosystems, shore protection, mariculture, and non-toxic methods of preserving wood from marine boring organisms, termites, rot, and fire, in order to increase the lifetime of wood and decrease logging.

    In 1998 he and Wolf Hilbertz were awarded the Theodore M. Sperry Award for Pioneers and Innovators, the top award of the Society for Ecological Restoration.

    Dr. Goreau led developing country NGO efforts in marine and climate issues at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), the UN Summits on Development of Small Island Developing States (Barbados, 1994, Mauritius, 2005), the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, 2002), and the UN Convention on Climate Change (Bali, 2007).

    Dr. Goreau works with tropical fishing communities around the world to restore their coral reefs and fisheries, especially the Kuna Indians of Panama, the only native people of the Americas who have preserved their cultural and political independence.

    He is also a hereditary leader of the Yolngu Dhuwa Aboriginal clan of Arnhem Land, Australia, who preserve the oldest creation myth in the world. Of Panamanian origin, he was educated in Jamaican primary and secondary schools, at MIT (B.Sc in Planetary Physics), Caltech (M.Sc in Planetary Astronomy), Yale, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Harvard (Ph.D. in Biogeochemistry), and is a certified nuisance crocodile remover. 


    Ph.D., Biogeochemistry, 1981, Harvard University, MA, USA
    Master of Science, Planetary Astronomy, 1972, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), CA, USA
    Bachelor of Science, Planetary Physics, 1970, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MA, USA

    Selected Publications

  • Assessing Coral Reef Health. Science, Thomas J. Goreau

  • Balancing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide, Thomas J. Goreau

  • Balancing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide, Thomas J. Goreau 

  • Caribbean Sea Surface Temperatures and Coral Bleaching 1989—1996,Thomas J. Goreau, Raymond Hayes, and Alan Strong

  • Climate Change Impacts Have Been Underestimated, Thomas J. Goreau

  • Community-Based Whole-Watershed and Coastal Zone Management in Jamaica, T. J. Goreau, L. Daley, S. Ciappara, J. Brown

  • Control of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide , Thomas J. Goreau

  • Coral Bleaching In The Seychelles--Impacts and Recommendations, Thomas J. Goreau, Ph.D.

  • Coral bleaching and ocean "hot spots" AmbioGoreau, T.J. and R. L. Hayes. 1994. 

  • Coral Recovery From Bleaching in Alphonse and Bijoutier, Seychelles, Thomas J. Goreau, Ph.D.

  • Coral Recovery From Bleaching in Seychelles, Thomas J. Goreau

  • Coral Reef Protection in Western Jamaica, Thomas J. Goreau

  • Coral Reefs Rainforests of the Ocean: Thomas J. Goreau

  • Coral Reefs, Sewage Treatment, and Water Quality Standards, Thomas J. Goreau

  • Elevated Sea Surface Temperatures Correlate with Caribbean Coral Reef Bleaching , Thomas J. Goreau

  • Energy Systems, Environment and Development, Thomas J. Goreau

  • Environmentally Sound Technology for Sustainable Development, Thomas J. Goreau

  • Monitoring and Calibrating Sea Surface Temperature, Thomas J. Goreau

  • Negril & Green Island Area Environmental Protection Plan--October 1995, T. Goreau, J. Brown, E. Gordon, et.al

  • Rapid Spread of Diseases in Caribbean Coral Reefs, Thomas J Goreau, James Cervino, Maya Goreau, et al.

  • Reef Restoration Using Seawater Electrolysis in Jamaica, Thomas J. Goreau and Wolf Hilbertz

  • Reduced Growth Rate of Montastrea Annularis Following the 1987-1988 Coral-Bleaching Event, T. J. Goreau and A. H. Macfarlane

  • Scientific Correspondence Coral Bleaching in Jamaica, Thomas J. Goreau

  • Third Generation Artificial Reefs, Wolf Hilbertz and Thomas Goreau 

  • Tracking South Pacific Coral Reef Bleaching by Satellite and Field Observations, T. J. Goreau1, R. L. Hayes2, and A. E. Strong

  • Tropical Deforestation: Some Effects on Atmospheric Chemistry, Thomas J. Goreau and William Z. de Mello 

  • Tropical Ecophysiology, Climate Change, and the Global Carbon Cycle, Thomas J. Goreau

  • Water quality in Negril, Maya Goreau & Thomas J. Goreau