Carrying capacity on Bonaire

Duncan R. MacRae solutions at
Mon Feb 10 08:05:32 EST 2003

Dear Mark, coral listers,

It looks like I have managed to raise some useful discussion on this
topic, which is needed. It seems that everyone has valid points but a few
people are missing the target I put out. I would not been so short sighted
as to suggest that:

'more diversity and greater health are related to higher number of
visiting divers'.

.... perhaps I should clarify myself further.

The key issue I was addressing was the use of diver numbers as a
management tool. If managers start to put a figure on how many divers can
visit a reef, then many people involved in the dive industry will see this
as a green light to fill the reefs to 'capacity'- not the best situation.
Or, the tourism industry in an area may be unfairly penalised by strict
visitor regulations. By refraining from using head counts, we are in
effect already applying the precautionary principle.

My point was that there are far more important factors to be addressed in
most areas of coral reef than to count diver numbers. One key point that I
noticed in the literature was the lack of information on how much 'actual'
damage divers cause and its significance for reef ecology. Various studies
have been done counting the amount of contact, contact on different
topographies, types of damage, amount of contact by different levels of
experience etc etc. I could only find one reference that looked at how
much damaged was caused to a colony from repeated touching and scraping
(Talge 1992).

So back to the point that using carrying capacity numbers for divers as a
management tool is not as problem free as it may first seem.

For directions on subscribing and unsubscribing to coral-list or the
digests, please see .

More information about the Coral-list-old mailing list