[Coral-List] Unsustainable Development

James M Cervino cnidaria at earthlink.net
Thu Mar 16 09:51:18 EST 2006

Mr Barber and Bourke,

Your intentions are evident as you are simply playing  into the hands 
of the Developer to obtain this account to place concrete "Balls" 
along the limestone coast where this proposed golf course will go. 
However, if you were to post a note on the coral-list as speaking out 
against this development while wanting to DONATE your "concrete 
balls" to the environmental group for coastal erosion-protection, 
then your intentions would be justified as environmentally 
respectable. Are you aware that your "Balls" will be quickly 
overgrown with Macro-algae once this golf course is implemented ? 
There is an example of an artificial reef that someone placed close 
to shore where mangroves were clear cut.  These structures were 
placed in the sediment within 10-15 feet depth of water and are 
completely smothered with macro-algae which should serve as a model 
for you; that surrounding this island with "concrete balls" will 
simply not protect the living remaining 100-200 year old corals that 
are already stressed.

At least the environmental group on Guana is pushing to protect the 
remaining living tissue residing on the surfaces of these coral 
skeletons as they seem to understand what "critical levels" of 
nutrients mean in an oligotrophic reef system. All they are trying to 
do is stop this small  island from being over developed with 300 
condo units and a golf course. No sound person would back such a plan 
on an island that is approximately 2-3km in length. (one can walk 
around this island in 30min).

Any logical scientist will tell you that this development will 
fertilize the reef and increase the abundance of macro algae species 
within this habitat, thereby threatening this already thermally 
stressed coral reef ecosystem. Have your and your scientific advisors 
reviewed this golf course proposal? I doubt it, as you would then be 
aware that they are going to dredge this area as well which will 
further add stress to this reef. Mr. Barber; there are many 
publications out there that show how sediment loading can effect 
coral physiology, here is one such publication that I can forward to 
you (Peters, E. 1984.  A survey of cellular reactions to 
environmental stress and disease in Caribbean scleractinian corals. 
Helgol. Meeresunters. 37: 113-137. Your so called environmentally 
conscious Reef Ball Team may not have an understanding of the 
sensitive cellular mechanisms and physiology of symbiotic reef 
building corals.  If you did you would not be trying to help this 
developer in any way.

You may not be aware of this as, coral reefs are known to be the most 
nutrient sensitive ecosystems. Coral reefs can become  "eutrophic", 
that is, overgrown by weedy algae, at nutrient levels that are so low 
that they would indicate nutrient starvation in any other ecosystem. 
This golf course will be a point source and will create hazardous 
high levels of nutrients into this coastal zone. Any nutrient 
drainage into this area will cause the reefs to deteriorate further. 
Here are some papers that you can read about reef stress before you 
just stamp your letter of approval onto this project (P. Bell,1992, 
Eutrophication and coral reefs: some examples in the Great Barrier 
Reef lagoon, Water Research, 26: 553-568; B. Lapointe, & M. Clark, 
1992, Nutrient inputs from the watershed and coastal eutrophication 
in the Florida Keys, Estuaries, 15: 465-476; B. Lapointe, in press, 
Eutrophication thresholds for macroalgal overgrowth of coral reefs, 
in K. Thacker (Ed.) Protecting Jamaica's Coral Reefs: Water quality 

Dear Mr. Bob Bourke Environmental Scientist (ex-marine biologist), do 
you call this a sound project?

You said that: "Concepts of Low Impact Development and active 
management using primarily  groundwater and runoff monitoring 
feedback programs are effective in many locations.

We say that we have no time to monitor anything!  The Discovery & Co. 
EIA plans are to dredge up a portion of the 1 mile island, dump the 
sediment onto the surrounding reef and add soil fill combined with 
quartz sand for this golf course.  This limestone substrate will act 
as a permeable filter for the nutrients to leach out into the reef 
thereby feeding the invasive species. Here is some information for 
you Mr Bourke regarding levels of nutrients that are critical in a 
living reef system:

1.0 micromoles per litre of nitrogen as nitrate and ammonia
0.1 micromoles per litre of phosphorous as ortho-phosphate and organophosphate.
These values are in the molecular concentration units used by 
chemists and oceanographers. In the weight units more often used in 
the wastewater literature these translate into:
Nitrogen: 0.014 ppm N or 0.040 ppm NO3
Phosphorous 0.003 ppm P or 0.007 ppm PO4

I hope that more people will speak out against this type of 
development given the state of the worlds reefs are in today. If we 
cannot convince the US administration to control atmospheric carbon 
dioxide that is responsible for thermal stress in corals at least we 
can help the peoples of Guana protect their reef from a developer 
that cares nothing about the corals and the fish that live within 
this habitat. 

Dr. James M. Cervino, MS, Ph.D.
Marine Biologist
Department of Biological & Health Sciences
Pace University New York NYC
Phone: (917) 620-5287
Web site: http://www.globalcoral.org

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