No subject

Mark Vermeij Mark.Vermeij at
Fri Feb 7 11:12:13 EST 2003

Dear Duncan, and the rest,

Being somewhat familiar with the Bonaire situation I want to raise some
caution to  that what's suggested in your mail, more diversity and
greater health are related to higher number of visiting divers. Although
this realtion could well exist, to suggest any sort of mechanistical
relationship is probably highly premature. Although one could think of
divers as an disturbance that jacks up species numbers (i.e. attraction
of fish mainly), the suggestion that diving causes/ increases the
attractiveness/ health of a reef should not be proposed as such, as it
will likely be used as an "easy" argument in discussions occurring all
around the world where the reef and society compete. In itself this
would  of course be ok, were it not that the relation mentioned above is
very likely the result of the "non random distribution" of divers around
the island and the unwillingness of dive resorts to go all the way to
the "really nice spots" on Bonaire, which will take a considerable trip,
that many tourists don't deal with very well.
Spots with low diversity are not very attractive for divers, hence they
aren't brought over there. The regular dive sites occur on the entire
leeward site of  Bonaire and take the major amount of visitors. The
truly exciting reefs occur on the east side or the north side of the
island, but suffer from some serious beating by the trade winds.
Needless to say that no resort will  throw their visitors of the cliffs
on these sides of the island to "enjoy" a really good reef.
A pattern no evolves where divers aren't brought to the worst and the
best sides, creating a relation at the beginning of this continuum
between increasing numbers of divers and overall reef quality. I think
this underlying factor needs to be addressed before claims as yours can
be made, so one doesn't risk the "justification" of adding large numbers
of divers to a reef to save it.

Best regards,

Dr. Mark Vermeij

Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (RSMAS/UM)

NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Science Center
75 Virginia Beach Dr, Miami, FL 33149 USA
Tel: +1 305-361-4230,
Fax: +1 305-361-4499
E-mail: Mark.Vermeij at

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