Brylske at aol.com
Brylske at aol.com
Wed Jun 20 17:24:45 EDT 2001
A question arose recently from a diver that I was hesitant to answer
until I gathered some expert opinion. It relates to the issue of diver impact
on coral reefs. But unlike the usual concern, which involves direct damage to
reef structure, this query involved another form of potential
impact—disturbance during mass spawning events. A similar issue has already
arisen with respect to the closure of the Tortugas South reserve if to scuba
diving. The rationale, which I’m proud to say that the diving industry has
largely supported, is the avoidance of disturbance to known fish spawning
aggregations in this area. However, the question at hand does not involve
fish, but coral spawning. The diver wondered whether there might be some
detrimental impact when scuba divers are present during mass spawning events.
The concern was raised because many dive operators are now promoting tours
specifically to observe these events.
My gut, less-than-expert reaction was that, given the large area of such
spawning events and the relatively small area where diving activities might
take place, the presence of divers is likely to be negligible, if not totally
inconsequential. Further, my understanding is that the lipid content of the
gamete packets make them buoyant, so fertilization does not occur under
water, but at the surface when the packets break up. This would seem to
further negate the effect of divers in the water.
So, I’d love to hear experts in this arena chime in and wax poetic. Do
you believe that such diving activity could have any significant detrimental
consequences, and if so how? Might the mere presence of divers inhibit gamete
release? Could the exhaust bubble actually facilitate the breaking up the
packets? I can't promise that this thread will be as entertaining as the
recent discussion of the role of overfishing, but it’s a legitimate concern
of some of the more environmentally-aware members of the recreational diving
community. Your insights would be much appreciated.
Alex F. Brylske, Ph.D.
Marine Conservation & Education Specialist
Project AWARE Foundation
Please respond to:
3324 SW 8th Court
Cape Coral, Florida 33914
800-729-7234, ext. 675 (phone-US toll free)
alexb at padi.com (Email)
brylske at aol.com (Email)
For directions on subscribing and unsubscribing to coral-list or the
digests, please visit www.coral.noaa.gov, click on Popular on the
menu bar, then click on Coral-List Listserver.
More information about the Coral-list-old