Judith C. Lang jlang at uts.cc.utexas.edu
Mon Aug 25 11:19:06 EDT 1997

Re: Brighter Prospects for the World's Coral Reefs?
    Science, 25 July 1997

To anyone who might be thinking that Bob Stenck and I are of the delusion
that we invented the Rapid Assessment Protocol, let me please clarify that
what we are really doing is helping Phil Kramer and many others try to
realize Bob Ginsburg's goal of developing protocols for rapidly screening
the present health of Caribbean-area reef corals and coral reefs.

More generally, the view presented in this article--that midway through the
International Year of the Reef,  "some coral reef scientists are beginning
to suspect that reefs may not be quite as widely imperiled as they once
thought" (p. 489)-- really isn't an accurate presentation of my
understanding of what at least some of us were trying to articulate.

Surely we all agree that many reefs near large human populations have
declined.  A genuine sense of alarm for what might happen if present trends
continue inspires much of everyone's current research, monitoring,
management and/or educational efforts. Where we have differed is in our
respective levels of confidence at guesstimating the global-scale future of
reefs over the next century.

As expressed by Bob Steneck (pers. comm.) several months ago, "our concern
is not whether some reefs are in trouble, it's whether all reefs are in
trouble and, if not, which ones are and which ones are not".

One of IYOR's primary goals is: "A better assessment of the health of the
world's reefs, as a result of research and monitoring programmes, and
identification of those reefs in greatest need of conservation and
management." Hence, it's unfortunate that we were collectively
characterized as having overlooked how narrowly reefs had been surveyed in
our so-called "frenzy to convey the severity of the problem" (p. 492).

Oh well, at least valid concerns about the world's coral reefs are getting
some positive play in the scientific press!
Judy Lang

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