Could bombing benefit Vieques reefs?

Jim_Maragos at Jim_Maragos at
Tue Dec 7 18:49:01 EST 1999

     Les Kaufman's comments about Johnston Atollmay be misunderstood bythe
     uninformed. The reefs of Johnston Atoll were never bombed.  There were VERY
     high atmospheric nuclear tests at the atoll in the late 1950s and possibly
     the early 1960s, but none of these tests were anywhere near sea level or
     underwater.  A few military rockets blew up on the launch pad and plutonium
     may have been scattered into the ocean near Johnston Island in the early
     60s, but the atoll was never used as a bombing range and there is no
     evidence of bomb craters or other impacts associated with live firing and
     bombing.  True, the atoll was dredged in the early 60s to expand the land
     area and construct an airfield and port at the atoll, and indeed during the
     subsequent 35 years, the reefs have recovered.

     As a result I don't think the recent history of Johnston Atoll has much
     relevance to the ongoing discussion regarding the bombing at Vieques.
     Wouldn't it be better to focus some of our efforts on evaluating reef areas
     that were actually used for military bombing practice?  Where are these
     areas? Let's make a list of them and find out how they are doing!

     James E. Maragos, Ph.D. Coral Reef Biologist
     U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Islands Ecoregion

     ____________________Reply Separator____________________
     Subject:  Re: Could bombing benefit Vieques reefs?
     Author:   owner-coral-list at
     Date:          11/20/99 6:14 AM

Strong endorsement of Doug's point.

Several on the list have visited or worked at Johnston Atoll, site of a
facility for the disposal of chemical weapons and a place with a history
of environmental insults.  The reef is mostly in very beautiful condition
due to the restrictions on access and use, and is now within a National
Wildlife Sanctuary.

Les Kaufman
Boston University Marine Program
lesk at
617-353-5560 office
617-353-6965 lab
617-353-6340 fax

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