[Coral-List] reef restoration

Gene Shinn eshinn at marine.usf.edu
Tue May 20 14:40:47 EDT 2008

The various discussions of reef restoration/recovery/resiliency etc., 
have been interesting. Throughout this long thread no one has 
mentioned geology! I would suggest that before anyone begins 
restoration projects a few core holes should be drilled. It helps to 
know if coral ever thrived in a place before pumping money into 
recovery efforts. What biologists and divers call a reef isn't always 
a reef. The same is true of seagrass mitigation/restoration projects. 
A simple push core will determine if seagrass ever lived in a 
mitigation area. It makes no sense to transplant seagrass, or corals, 
to a place where they never thrived in the first place. 
      Martin Moe had it right. It may be worthwhile to do restoration 
in "special places." Special places are rare in the Florida Keys. By 
special I mean the reef has grown to more than a few meters thick and 
has built up to near sea level. That's why ships hit them! These 
special places usually have lighthouses and markers and they have 
been given special names. Why are those places so special? Because 
they make up no more than a few percent of the entire Florida Keys 
Reef Tract. The rest of the 150-mile-long so-called reef tract is 
less than 2 m thick and some of it is just bare Pleistocene limestone 
with scattered coral heads, sponges, gorgonians, and fish. Most 
divers call these areas reefs but they are basically hard ground 
communities. Because corals in these hard ground areas (about 98 
percent of the reef tract) have been unable to construct a reef, and 
have undergone previous die-offs during the past approximately 6,000 
years, it would be a waste of time an money to attempt resurrection. 
The expression, "beating a dead horse" comes to mind. Sometimes a 
little geology could save a lot of public money. Gene    


No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
------------------------------------ -----------------------------------
E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
University of South Florida
Marine Science Center (room 204)
140 Seventh Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
<eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
Tel 727 553-1158---------------------------------- 

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