[Coral-List] Coral Reef Degradation

Sarah Frias-Torres sfrias_torres at hotmail.com
Mon Apr 19 10:26:36 EDT 2010

Melissa,where to begin.....
There is a wonderful book titled "wildlife films" by Derek Bouse. One of the comments in the book states that many wildlife films or nature documentaries are deceptive, in that they provide a view of the natural world which is still pristine, untouched and full of life, even if the filmmakers have to go to the ends of the Earth. In recent nature series,(Life, Planet Earth, etc) there is a snippet on how difficult it was for the filmmakers to do their job; but still, the perception of endless abundance and that all is working perfectly still remains in the general public.
Then, there is the pervasive problem of shifting baselines. I recently have a close encounter on that front at the Miami International airport. Billboard #1: "Get to know your neighbors: learn more about southeast Florida coral reef treasures" from REEF; Billboard # 2: "Coral reefs are thousands of years old. Respect your elders" from the US Virgin Islands, with a NOAA logo. The messages are engaging in both billboards, but the photograph provided in both cases show a coral reef in really bad shape, with no living stony coral, and a small school of fish pretty low in the food chain.. I don't doubt the PR department in both cases were looking for the most inspiring photograph, but considering this might be the only conservation message thousands of airline passengers will get, I wonder if we should provide the reference of how a healthy coral reef in south Florida (or the Virgin Islands)  looks like (if we still can find it), or, preventing deception from the unsuspecting tourist diver that might not encounter such pristine site, do a before-after comparison, with pristine vs degraded and say where we are going.  
Still, like any Hollywood movie, you need a happy ending. There is this message from nature photographer Sebastiao Salgado who says about 45 % of the world still remains in a natural state, and we should concentrate on preserving it that way. So there is some hope.

Sarah Frias-Torres, Ph.D. http://independent.academia.edu/SarahFriasTorres

> Date: Sun, 18 Apr 2010 11:34:31 -0700
> From: melissae.keyes at yahoo.com
> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Subject: [Coral-List] Coral Reef Degradation
> Hello, Listers,
> The public doesn't really believe the oceans and coral reefs are in so much trouble.  They see the beautiful programs like Blue Planet and even when the divers go diving, they can't see much more than the pretty fish.  Dive buddies of mine think I'm nuts when I point at coral.
> It will be interesting to see the turn out for the Disney movie that promises to give money to Save the Reefs if you attend the first few days.  Funny, I've looked at the trailers, and don't see any images of corals anywhere.  Where did they find all those big critters and huge schools of fish???
> Movie opens April 22.
> cheers,
> Melissa
>  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Melissa E. Keyes
> St. Croix, 
> U.S.Virgin Islands
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