[Coral-List] Sunscreen, corals, and the usual suspects
kruer at 3rivers.net
Fri Dec 7 14:55:48 EST 2007
Dear Dr. Shinn,
Years ago in the Florida Keys the culprit of coral problems early on was
the lack of "adequate" sewage treatment, then it became Everglades
National Park and nutrients and water flows, then it was the Mississippi
River, then it was African dust, and now of course it's global warming.
Get my drift - it seems that the culprit is getting farther and farther
away from home. And NOAA and the USGS has led that charge. There is
virtually no Keys data to support any of it as being the direct cause of
the demise of most of the hard corals there (warming and bleaching
possibly excepted) and the focus and expense of the yet to be
accomplished high-level sewage treatment has taken attention away from
most other problems there, and given agencies a convenient way out.
I've had several replies to my recent anxious note and they all stated
that such human impacts as I worry myself about were "well documented"
and "widely acknowledged", and as you say "a major obvious focus of
concern". So, in my simple-minded approach to this I believe that you
start at home and address the obvious problems and then work your way up
the ladder of problems. Not the other way around - especially if it
involves forever chasing mysteries and impossible-to-prove conjecture.
South Florida seems to be full of form over substance, even outside of
But we do know that the free-for-all that still is the Keys results in
direct, physical impacts to corals (not to mention the rest of the
ecosystem) - vessels grind away corals (the FKNMS acknowledges that
there are still 600 vessel groundings each year in the Keys), 500,000
lobster traps are routinely dropped on coral of all types,
indestructible trap line wraps and winds and wears itself around corals
including pillar coral, the Navy's recent dredging into Key West Harbor
impacted corals (and now the City wants the Corps to widen the channel),
the sinking of the largest vessel in the western hemisphere near Key
West for a dive site benefitting few won't help corals, that's for sure,
but is getting ready to happen anyway. And except for the new Tortugas
MPA 70 miles west of Key West to my knowledge there's not a single new
marine protected area in the Keys over what existed in the mid-1990s.
Aren't MPAs now documented to help this type of ecosystem?
We might not salvage the entire place and all the pieces by starting at
home - but at least we would have tried. That's been my point all along.
Got a new outside-the-box mystery Dr. Shinn? Let us in on it.
Thanks for listening.
Gene Shinn wrote:
>C. Kruer responded to Sara Peck and Kee Alfian's concern about lack
>of information on sunscreen effects on coral with, "I'd suggest that
>research into direct anthropogenic impacts to corals focus on anchor
>damage, physical impacts of careless divers, trap fisheries that drop
>lb traps onto coral and wrap poly line around them, illegal harvesting,
>dredging, siltation, groundings, etc. Maybe if we could get
>universities and other programs to bite the bullet and focus on
>difficult real world issues we could gain some ground."
> With all due respects, in my experience these "difficult real
>world issues" have been a major obvious focus of concern (and likely
>millions of dollars) for the past 40 years. Unfortunately, the
>corals for some unknown other reasons just keep on dying. Maybe we
>need to look outside the box.
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