aquariums save reefs?
EricHugo at aol.com
EricHugo at aol.com
Wed Nov 29 08:13:01 EST 2000
While I agree with many of your points, I would like to add the following
First, it does not take much skill anymore to grow corals in aquaria. It
does take some knowledge or good information, and it does take some amount of
patience and effort. However, even a newcomer to the hobby can realize coral
growth succesfully with hundreds of species from the get-go. Nonetheless,
you are disconcertingly correct that the way things are now, the situation is
realistically a wasteful one way ticket out of the ocean - at least in terms
of wild collection - and there are many reasons for this beyond the scope of
Still, I don't at all agree with your idea to switch to freshwater systems
(which have their own problems, in many cases). I think there are much
better solutions, including mariculture. As it stands right now, entire
aquariums can be stocked with several hundred species already being farmed,
cultured, bred, or traded. Several thousand more show up over time as part
of the stocking procedure (even of maricultured stock). We regulalry combine
small amounts of sand from various systems to increase biodiversity of
amphipods, polychaetes,e tc. We trade plankton. We grow corals faster than
the ocean. We observe behavior 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with
systems that have little input (nearly closed) and a biodiversity that can be
higher than many coral reefs.
My poster on unreported forms of asesxual reproduction in scleractinia at
9ICRS was based entirely on aquarium observations and several scientists from
very different countries noted they had seen something similar in the wild,
but had thought, in that quick snapshot of observation that is diving, that
it was a coral tissue injury.
Furthermore, and while a lofty and perhaps even logistically remote
possibility, keeping one million aquarists with the notion that their efforts
may be used for replenisment provides a proper motivation and direction for
aquaristic futures, and helps remove the "disposable fish" mentality.
Techniques developed and tried in home and public aquaria are being used in
restoration and replenishment and mariculture operations. At least this
particular aquarist is fairly involved in the scientific community and has
published to prove it - and funded solely out of his pocket and interest and
concern. Alienating or dismissing a group where many have skills,
observations, and knowledge equal to or above many on this list, I fear,
removes the likelihood of cooperation between related disciplines.
I have long felt that using aquarists and divers along with scientists can
provide meaningful benefits to stopping coral reef destruction. Some efforts
may be trivial, some perhaps far more meaningful. There are problems that
need to be addressed, but dismissing the cumulative resource that aquarists
could (and have indicated that they would) work toward, support, develop, and
provide both voluntarily and willingly is a bit disappointing.
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