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James M. Cervino cnidaria at
Thu Mar 18 07:33:57 EST 1999

Dear Dr. Delbeek,

A colleague has forwarded me an email from you regarding a
newspaper article about our work which was apparently posted on the list
server. As you know these articles almost invariably have things taken out
of context, incomplete, or just left out.

 Some of those in that article relate to the very points that you raise.
They incorrectly seemed to imply that we are raising the pH of the water to
increase skeleton growth, and that this is what the coral does,which is
absurd as you rightly point out.

Unfortunately they didn't check to get this right! In fact what I explained
to the writer was that the electrolysis of sea water created high pH
conditions directly at the growing mineral surface itself, causing
limestone to precipitate chemically from seawater and promoting rapid
growth of calcareous organisms by providing them with significant extra
metabolic energy for growth (that large fraction no longer used to create
alkaline microsites in the calicoblastic epithelium to grow their
skeletons). You can see that he incorrectly over-simplified what I said. We
are analysing many years of data from repeat photographs and video of
hundreds of corals in the Indian Ocean and Caribbean. The photographs and
measurements show coral growth rates up to four times normal, even under
highly eutrophic water quality. Another important point which the article
left out was that around 80% of the corals survived last year's bleaching
on a large mineral accretion structure in the Maldives and a smaller one in
Seychelles, although almost all corals were killed on the surrounding
reefs. Had these points been included in the article, it would have been
more clear why the method has relevance to coral survival in conditions in
a warmer and polluted world. But your implied point is quite correct: if
global warming and water quality are not controlled, all efforts at reef
restoration will be futile.

The idea and the results are on much more solid ground than the
article conveys. Of course we would also prefer that restoration isn't
really neccessary, but it is almost everywhere we look, especially in the
three quarters of the world's coral reefs seriously affected by last year's
bleaching (and luckily for you, not including Hawaii) and by bad water
quality. Even if the root causes of reef degradation are not addressed, our
method will be competitive for shore protection applications, which will be
even more needed.

	Please let me know if you have more questions. We'll be happy to
provide more information from our large amounts of data, photographs, and
video to serious researchers like yourself than we could to a newspaper
journalist. I had hoped to be able to come to show them in Hawaii when I
was invited to the meeting last week, but apparently reef restoration was
not an area of concern to the sponsors, and this did not work out.

	With best wishes,

	Tom Goreau

Dr. Thomas J. Goreau
Global Coral Reef Alliance
324 Bedford Rd., Chappaqua, NY 10514
telephone:  914-238-8788	Fax: 914-238-8768
E-mail: 	goreau at
Web site:

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