Florida's Reefs

Trish Hunt gigi101 at bellsouth.net
Mon Jun 25 14:32:02 EDT 2001

To all interested:  After receiving the latest list message, I felt
compelled to write my governor.  None of you know me or who I am.  I have no
acronyms behind my name, nor do I have any scientific credentials of any
kind.  I joined this list in the hopes of learning something more about the
reefs I had fished above as a child, the animals I learned about in high
school, and the inhabitants I have/plan to have in my aquarium one day.  Not
to mention, maybe I would learn for later reference good places to dive.

This list has given me so much more though.  It has opened my eyes to the
gravity of the reef situation around the world.  I had no idea the problems
that exist are so profound and severe.  The list has also given me a bit of
insight as to what scientists look for in the way of reef damage, by
whatever means.  Perhaps what I have learned thus far and what more I may
learn until then will make me a more conscientious and courteous diver and a
better reef aquaria keeper.

Anyway, here is a copy of what I sent to my governor.  It may seem rather
elementary, but I actually let my emotions about the subject get in the way
of my writing.  That isn’t something I usually do; but maybe that emotion as
a citizen will make it seem more real to the man, vs. someone putting me up
to it or a group lobbying for it.

I welcome any thoughts any of you might want to send.  I am just trying to
do my part, no matter how small.

Patricia Hunt
gigi101 at bellsouth.net <mailto:gigi101 at bellsouth.net>

Dear Mr. Governor,
            My name is Patricia Hunt and I live in Jacksonville, FL.  I am
just your average citizen.  I am a 27-year-old wife and a mother of a 2 year
old.  I have served in the US Army for 4 years (Ft. Hood, TX) and other than
those 4 years, I have lived here my whole life.
            As a child, my father took me fishing.  We fished from beaches
and from docks until he was able to afford a boat.  I spent most summer
weekends offshore from the age of 6 to 17.  During those years on the water,
my father taught me about safety and about conserving our resources.  If we
had no intentions of eating whatever fish we caught, we threw it back.  If
it was too tired to swim on its own, I watched my father get into the water
with it (once, a 6’ female tiger shark in addition to others) in order to
assist its breathing until it could swim away on its own.  I learned about
the dangers of plastic bags floating in our waters and that sea turtles eat
them – mistaking them for jellyfish.  I learned that the plastic rings that
come around soda 6-packs can get caught around birds’ and other animals’
necks, strangling them to death – so I rip them apart before throwing them
away.  I learned not to anchor on reefs because it tears them up, killing
the very place that fish hide in, swim in, and feed in.  I also watched my
father capture a pelican that had a hook caught in its skin, just below its
bill, so that we could take the hook (still attached to fishing line) out of
            From a very young age, a love for the marine environment has
been instilled in me and nurtured.  I may not have a boat yet, but when I do
go to the beach with my husband and baby, I find myself picking up trash
others have left behind.  I want the marine environment to be healthy and
enjoyable for my son when he is my age.  If I am lucky, he will learn from
my example to care for his environment the same way my father taught me.  I
cannot afford to obtain diving certification yet, either.  So instead, I
have started up my very own marine aquarium.  I want to one day keep corals
and other invertebrates in my aquarium and have been doing a tremendous
amount of research on the subject on the Internet.  That is how I became a
part of             coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
<mailto:coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>  .
            I am not a scientist nor am I even in any profession associated
with the marine environment, but because I am fighting an algae bloom in my
aquarium, I found a particular article from this list interesting. It spoke
of an alleged algae bloom that is allegedly killing off some of Florida’s
coral reefs and a possible reason behind the algae bloom.  All that was
needed was some more money from the state in order to research this reason.
You vetoed this funding, according to the article, because the research
wouldn’t provide a statewide benefit.
            As a Florida resident and a registered voter, I am completely
appalled with this decision.  The last time that I checked, tourism is
Florida’s number one industry and I am sorry to say, Mickey Mouse isn’t
Florida’s only tourist attraction.  Divers,
snorkelers, fishermen, and tourists enjoy healthy reefs and the diverse
population of fish and other marine life the reefs support. The reef-lovers
buy dive and snorkel gear, rent boats, hire guides, stay in hotels, rent
beach houses for weeks and months at a time, eat in restaurants, not to
mention they spend money on their “land-based” entertainment as well.
Fishermen spend money on many of the same things.  The “snowbirds” spend
their money in the winter; the rest of us spend our money in the summer
            If that is not “statewide” enough to reconsider giving these
scientists some funding to do their research on my behalf, your behalf, your
family’s behalf, my son’s behalf, and his children’s behalf, then I truly
don’t know where your priorities lie.  You say it is on education.  We live
in Florida and I assure you most of our natural sciences curriculum in high
school consists of knowledge of what is around us locally.  I am still young
enough to remember my high-school days and learning about turtle nests,
manatees, fire coral, Portuguese-Man-O-Wars, and octopus.  Helping to fund
this research will be funding long term and real life education. If we don’t
have much of a reef-ecosystem left later to educate our children or our
grandchildren about, there goes most of my most memorable school lessons
right out of the education system.  If that happens, have we really done our
            Another thing, I cannot speak for the rest of the residents that
enjoy nature in all forms, but after living in Killeen for 3 years I assure
you I wanted nothing more than to come back to Florida when I got out of the
service.  I needed to be near the ocean.  I have plans on diving in the
future.  If I don’t have anything to look at but dead stuff when I do
finally get down there, I might have to move to Australia or something.  If
you don’t reconsider funding this research project, I assure you, if Janet
Reno does run for your position, I will vote for her in a heartbeat.

            I am sorry this has turned out so long.  I felt the need to
fully explain my position and why I stand where I do.  I would appreciate a
response, even a short one; but please do not send me a typical form letter.
Thank you for your time.

Patricia Hunt
Jacksonville, FL
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