carrying capacity

david medio david at
Fri Feb 7 11:44:10 EST 2003

I do not know Bonaire, but have worked on the issue of carrying capacity and
diver damage.

At Ras Mohammed National park (possibly the most densily dived spot anywhere
on earth) there is no question that a correlation exists between no of
divers and reef degradation. The only thing that has made a difference is
(a) diver education, (b) no anchors, (c) no boat discharges and limited
number of boats per mooring and per site.


Dr David Medio
Environmental Consultant

43 St John Street
YO31 7QR
+44 1904 647202
david at
----- Original Message -----
From: "Mark Vermeij" <Mark.Vermeij at>
To: <solutions at>
Cc: <coral-list at>
Sent: Friday, February 07, 2003 4:12 PM

> 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,
> Mark
> --
> 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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