[Coral-List] Mystery Event - Lankayan Island, Sulu Sea Sandakan

Alan E. Strong Alan.E.Strong at noaa.gov
Fri Aug 24 08:31:27 EDT 2007


Note this ASLO/AGU paper by our (Coral Reef Watch) Sea Grant Fellow in 
2004...Nevin Fuckar....as a possibly of oceanic heat source transiting 
into a reef.


Arthur Webb wrote:
> Gene and others - thanks for your thoughts,
> Gene indeed "looking up" as you indicate may be a component of the issue 
> in the Maldives due to there geographic location but is highly unlikely 
> re the Kiribati phenomena.  And for those that don't know these islands 
> check Google Earth - 0 23'35.05" N 173 52'39.50"E (Abemama) and 0 
> 39'05.54"S 174 20"00.35" E (Nonouti) they're a long way from Asia and 
> also "upwind" if you like.  (Incidentally, these are excellent high res. 
> images and really let you get a feel for these magnificent environments).
> Bob, thanks also for your comments which are instructive, again some may 
> apply to Maldives event but I'll leave Don to comment further as I have 
> no personal experience in the Maldives.  However, I don't know that they 
> all fit with the Kiribati event.  I'm unconvinced with regards to direct 
> human disturbance (these Islands must surely be some of the most 
> pristine on the planet and these communities among the last on Earth who 
> still live in a sustainable balance with their environment).  As for 
> rainfall and tide, I've spent some 10 years working throughout these 
> islands I've seen some of the highest tides on record and heaviest 
> rainfall but have never heard or seen a fish kill associated with these 
> natural phenomena.  Also in terms of the hydrology these floating 
> freshwater lens are presumably quite restricted in the depth they can 
> penetrate down since the islands are so narrow and most importantly the 
> land surface is very low (on average about 1m above high tide) this 
> restricts the volume of freshwater which can be "held" irrespective of 
> recharge rates as heavy rain simply results in surface ponding and even 
> surface runoff in extreme cases.  Additionally, I can't help but think 
> we should expect to hear stories from the local communities if heavy 
> rainfall and / or high tides produced fish kills as these oceanic and 
> atmospheric phenomena occur relatively regularly.  Otherwise, I can't 
> think what could possibly allow the quick release of sufficient volumes 
> of anoxic fresh water into the neighboring marine environment which was 
> adequate to cause a wide spread (several kilometers of coast) kills on 
> these high energy, deep oceanic drop offs?
> I guess so far, that leaves the most likely candidates as either an 
> unusual deep cold / anoxic upwelling or as John McManus indicates 
> perhaps the other way, an unusually warm pool of surface water forming 
> around or moving past these islands (I must admit I hadn't thought it 
> possible for water to heat to this extent in the deep open ocean 
> environment - coral bleaching maybe but how extreme would conditions 
> have to be to kill fish in such environments?! - there is obviously no 
> routine direct measurement of even basic WQ parameters on these remote 
> islands but if I can find time I'll see what information I can pull 
> together re the regional weather and surface conditions around Dec '03 - 
> perhaps our NOAA friends could help?).
> Anyway it's an interesting one,
> Thanks to all,
> Arthur
> Gene Shinn wrote:
>> Dear Arthur, It just may be that everyone is looking down  at the 
>> "usual suspects." The cover story in the 2, August 2007 issue of 
>> Nature (see 575) describes what is happening above the Maldives. Gene
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Alan E. Strong, Ph.D.
NOAA Coral Reef Watch, Senior Consultant
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
NOAA Coral Reef Watch Program
  e-mail: Alan.E.Strong at noaa.gov
url: coralreefwatch.noaa.gov

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