[Coral-List] Reassessing Coral Reefs: Reply To S. Mussman
douglasfennertassi at gmail.com
Mon Apr 20 21:56:47 EDT 2015
I should also say that we all owe a huge debt to the dive industry, for
building a constituency for coral reefs (as well as teaching us how to dive
and the beauty of reefs). Anybody who has been diving on a reef has begun
to see the beauty and appreciate this incredible ecosystem. People spend
billions of dollars to go see reefs, that tells me that they value them.
Coral reefs have charisma, and if there is anything that can save them,
that is the one thing that will make it happen. People who write popular
articles, publish pictures, or make films about coral reefs are all divers,
without diving we would have none of that. And it reaches an enormous
number of people, all over the world. Anyone who watches one of those
beautiful movies of reefs is captivated, and they become part of an
enormous constituency that reefs have. Scientific divers are a very small
proportion of all divers.
So we all owe a huge debt to the diving industry, and if we could start
to mobilize more of that constituency to demand reductions in all types of
human-caused damage to coral reefs, we could do a LOT more to save them.
But my hat's off to the diving industry for this.
On Mon, Apr 20, 2015 at 11:22 AM, Douglas Fenner <
douglasfennertassi at gmail.com> wrote:
> My statement wasn't meant to apply to just the heavily dived areas. It
> was meant to apply to the world's coral reefs as a whole. Most of which
> have very few if any divers ever. Diving is concentrated in tiny areas,
> compared to the size of the world's reefs, though when you're diving there,
> they may not seem tiny.
> I have no doubt that in many heavily dived areas, there is
> significant diver damage, I don't dispute that, and I support reducing it.
> I have, however, seen corals recovering from hurricane (Gilbert) damage in
> Cozumel in spite of 2000 dives a day on 15 miles of reef. That tells me
> that diving was much less damaging than the hurricane was. That may not be
> a common experience around areas of heavy diver usage, and may in part be
> due to the currents and drift diving which may reduce diver contact in
> An awful lot of reef that has little or no diving has been going
> downhill. Much of the Caribbean, and now the Great Barrier Reef are
> outstanding examples. The primary cause of initial Caribbean decline was
> white band disease on Acropora. We don't know the cause of that, but it
> wasn't divers, the disease killed corals in places with no divers. The
> causes of GBR decline do not include diver damage, as far as I know.
> Diving is almost completely restricted to near diving platforms that
> operators set up on the outer reefs, tiny areas compared to the vast reef
> system. Mass coral bleaching, crown-of-thorns, and cyclones are the
> primary culprits if I remember. Bleaching caused by hot water events on
> top of global warming, the crown-of-thorns outbreaks enabled by nutrient
> runoff from human activities on land, and increased cyclones may be due to
> shifting weather patterns or a streak of bad luck. The decline was not
> caused by diving.
> Reducing diver damage is good. It will help save small areas of
> economically valuable reefs, for perhaps as much as a few decades. That
> can help buy time for those areas, time for us to get the big problems
> under control. But it won't save the world's coral reefs, most of which
> have very little or no diving, and it will only temporarily save the dive
> spots if we don't get the big problems under control. I agree that
> reducing diver impact is a central part of saving heavily dived reefs, even
> if it is a very minor part of saving the world's reefs. It is a good
> start, but we have to do much, much more or we are going to just keep
> loosing more and more coral.
> Cheers, Doug
> On Sat, Apr 18, 2015 at 5:12 AM, Alevizon, William Stephen <
> alevizonws at cofc.edu> wrote:
>> Steve -
>> Re: your comment, "But William, it's not humans as divers that are doing
>> the most damage. It's a host of other human activities that are destroying
>> the reefs."
>> First, I'd like to see some actual evidence that statement is true, at
>> the scale of many heavily (by recreational divers) used localized reef
>> Second, even if true, that does not mean that we can just ignore all but
>> the most destructive cause(s), even if those could be unambiguously
>> In the few instances (e.g., Saba, Bonaire, Cabo Pulmo) where diver
>> numbers are strictly controlled, the benefits in terms of reef health have
>> been well-documented.
>> But, while diver "awareness" and pre-dive briefings have been shown to
>> reduce damage on a per diver basis in some (not all) cases, but such
>> benefits are negated where the number of dives/year remains excessive.
>> In short, the dive industry and/or sport divers themselves cannot and
>> will not effectively address the issue of too many divers on a reef. Only
>> MPA management has the authority and means to control this most damaging
>> impact of recreational diving.
>> William S. Alevizon
>> Research Associate
>> Dept. of Biology
>> College of Charleston
>> 58 Coming St.
>> Charleston, S.C. 29424
>> Coral-List mailing list
>> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Douglas Fenner
> Contractor with Ocean Associates, Inc.
> PO Box 7390
> Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799 USA
> phone 1 684 622-7084
> "belief in climate change is optional, participation is not."
> Politics, science, and public attitudes: What we're learning, and why it
> matters. Science Insider, open access.
> Homeopathy ineffective, study confirms.
> website: http://independent.academia.edu/DouglasFenner
> blog: http://ocean.si.edu/blog/reefs-american-samoa-story-hope
Contractor with Ocean Associates, Inc.
PO Box 7390
Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799 USA
phone 1 684 622-7084
"belief in climate change is optional, participation is not."
Politics, science, and public attitudes: What we're learning, and why it
matters. Science Insider, open access.
Homeopathy ineffective, study confirms.
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