Nutrient deficiency and bleaching

Mark Spalding Mark.Spalding at
Mon May 14 04:59:08 EDT 2001

I'm not going to claim high expertise in all the critical areas of energy flow and coral nutrition, but (aside from points already mentioned) I would also have one fairly practical objection, to your proposal, which applies at the macro scale.

I studied the reef fish populations in the southern Seychelles during the bleaching in 1998, and have just returned from the Chagos Archipelago. In both places (representing over 2% of the world's coral reefs) 80-90% of the coral died from the bleaching. These also represent reefs with remarkably low levels of fishing (or other environmental impacts), they had, and actually still have, abundant and diverse reef fish populations. This would appear to counter any corellation between nutrient mining and the impacts of the bleaching. While you might choose to link it to a "wider ocean in trouble" scenario, Chagos in particular is thought to have existed in considerable isolation and with highly oligotrophic waters all around over considerable timescales.

Best wishes



Mark Spalding, PhD
Senior Marine Ecologist                             
UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre
219 Huntingdon Road                                 Tel: +44 (0)1223 277314
Cambridge, CB3 0DL                                  Fax: +44 (0)1223 277136
UK                                    e-mail:mark.spalding at
Research Associate
Cambridge Coastal Research Unit
Department of Geography
Downing St

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