[Coral-List] fish bombing and tsunami effects

Michael Risk riskmj at univmail.cis.mcmaster.ca
Wed Jan 12 08:42:07 EST 2005

Hello Didak.

Fish bombing has, of necessity, been forced to become more like
precision "smart" bombing as stocks are depleted. Midwater bombs aimed
at caesionids do little or no reef damage. Bomb craters in Acropora
 recover within 10 years-IF the water is not comtaminated.

We need to remember that, in evolutionary terms, reefs know all about
disasters. Steve Smith found that Acropora thickets on the tops of
atolls were only about 10 years old, because that was the average
frequency of the cyclones that gave them haircuts.

The world record for reef recovery is from Banda, eastern Indonesia,
where corals settled on a fresh lava flow and created a reef with 100%
cover, mostly Acropora, in 5-6 years. This was described by Tom
Tomascik in Coral Reefs a few years back. Tom had a terrible time
getting this paper past the reviewers, because there is a mindset out
there that does not want to hear that recovery can be that fast.

But we must remember the key elements to reef recovery: the water must
be clean, and sources of propagules must be nearby. (The reefs of
Jakarta Bay are never coming back-at least as long as Jakarta is

So the answer to your question is Yes, potentially, reefs damaged by
the tsunami can regrow at least a loose Acropora framework in less than

Arnaz worked in Sulawesi, not Sumatra. She and her husband Mark Erdmann
jointly discovered the coelocanths in fish markets there. The US Gov't
pulled them out after the terrorist attacks, brought them back, I
think, somewhere near Washington DC. (I am stunned by a mindset that
would pull people out of Bunaken Island back to DC so that they would
be safer...) My email address for Mark is on a computer that long since
went to Computer Heaven, but you should be able to get her contacts via
looking for Mark-Integrative Biology at Berkeley will know where he is.

Mike Risk

PS: Yes, I know the difference between Reply and Reply to All. I have
taken the liberty of copying this to the -list, because of the relative
urgency of launching intelligent recovery effrorts in the affected

On Tue, 11 Jan 2005 23:20:44 -0800
 Dida <didak at jps.net> wrote:
> About 6 years ago when I was actively research diving in Palau
> Sipidan (MY), and disturbed by the number of coral reef sites
> decimated by illegal fish bombing, I asked around (many contacts made
> via this list) about the rates of coral growth after such
> destruction. I head reports that healthy coral reefs are in place
> after only 10 years. Considering the effects of the tsunami, is a
> comparable rate of regrowth considered reasonable?
> Also, does anyone on this list have current contact info for Arnaz
> Mehta? Last I heard, she was a research diver in Sumatra (she was the
> person who found the coelacanth in an Indonesian market place, thus
> leading to proof of a wider distribution of the mysterious "dinosaur
> fish").
> Dida Kutz
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

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