Bill Precht's reply

Les Kaufman lesk at
Tue Jun 30 09:10:55 EDT 1998

Thank you, Bill, for that discussion of Belize.  One minor point, to file
under "blind men and the elephant."  My comments re: Belize were from
personal observations at Tobacco Reef and South Water Caye, as well as on
mid-shelf reefs around Wee Wee and the Pelicans.   Tobacco and South Water
(the spots I visited in 1997) sported luxuriant spurs of Agaricia
tenuifolia, with isolated patches of A. palmata in shallow and scattered A.
cervicornis sign and a few still-living, though embattled colonies.  It's
likely that heterogeneity in exposure and local conditions contaminate
cross-shelf comparisons here, just as they do on the Great Barrier Reef.  I
just connected the few places I'd been to with the Aronson and Precht
story, and they happened to rhyme.  Bears a frightening resemblance to

On a graver note, after all this discussion of the importance of
interacting factors, in explaining our collective wisdom to the public
shouldn't we continually emphasize that whatever the unique combination of
factors responsible for the death of a specific reef, the prevailing
factors include several that we CAN do a great deal about?  Even if
overfishing and eutrophication are not the universal causes of reef death
this year, there is no excuse for them in the first place, and ameliorating
them will hasten reef recovery in any event.

Les Kaufman
Boston University Marine Program
Department of Biology
Boston University
5 Cummington Street
Boston, MA 02215

e-mail: lesk at
phone: 617-353-5560
fax:   617-353-6340

"I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and
democracy... but that could change."

-Vice President Dan Quayle, 5/22/89

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