[Coral-List] question about the expanded listing of coral species

Martin Moe martin_moe at yahoo.com
Fri Feb 26 14:30:19 EST 2010

Dear Gene,
Your recent post put words to many of my thoughts.
Basically, if you allow me a rough analogy, it doesn’t help much to put new
tires on a car if the motor is broken, except maybe to sell it. With a Florida coral reef, it
doesn’t help the reefs as a whole very much to monitor the decline, and set out
coral fragments if the ecology of the reef is broken. Now don’t get me wrong,
it is critically important to do everything we can to learn about our reefs through
monitoring and science, and to do everything we can to enhance coral growth by
identifying resilient genotypes and putting them out on the reefs. But in the
long run, if you don’t fix the motor, the car won’t work, and if we don’t fix
the ecology, our coral reefs will continue to decline.
Back in 2001 Ken Nedimyer and I came to the same conclusion
but from different perspectives, that return of the urchin Diadema antillarum was
critical to restoration of the ecology of Florida’s coral reefs. We knew that this had
to be demonstrated, so we did a bare bones study, funded by FKNMS, on four
patch reefs off the Upper Keys, two experimental and two controls. Through
translocation of juvenile Diadema from unstable rubble zones, we were able to
maintain populations of about 1 per sq. meter on the two experimental reefs for
a year. Benthic assessments were done on all four reefs before deployment of the
urchins and one year later. As you might expect, algae decreased and coral
The results of this study are posted on the Florida Keys
National Marine Sanctuary website.
We don’t know the future of our reefs; we can only do what
makes sense, and what is possible. The return of herbivory, restoring the historical
ecological balance between coral and algae growth is essential to a healthy
ecology on a coral reef. If this can be done, it would be the best thing I can
imagine to provide the coral reefs with the resilience to best withstand the
current and future problems that face our reefs. Algae and corals war for space
and light and without herbivory, algae wins. The return of the keystone herbivore,
Diadema antillarum, in ecologically functional and reproductively effective
populations is our best, our only, proactive ecological measure we can employ
for ecological restoration. Restoration of Diadema on selected, highly valued
reefs would be the best start. And this can be done if we can mass produce in
hatcheries the thousands of Diadema that will be necessary, and then do the
research necessary to learn how to prepare them for survival on the reefs and
at what size. This can be done if we but make the effort. I have been
successful in developing the technology for mass production of Diadema through
to the early juvenile stage. Mass survival through the early juvenile stage and
into the stable early feeding juvenile remains to be accomplished, but the most
difficult aspects of the technology, larvae rearing, has been worked out. Mote
Marine Laboratory, the FWRI South Florida Regional Laboratory in Marathon, FL, and Tom Capo
at the University of Miami are working with
me to develop this technology to a functional level. It is important, however,
that this effort continues because it represents the last, best hope for ecological
restoration of our Atlantic coral reefs. So far, funding has been barely adequate
for early development of the technology. Funding appropriate to the scope and significance
of the project is necessary.
Martin Moe

----- Original Message ----
From: Eugene Shinn <eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Sent: Thu, February 25, 2010 12:23:11 PM
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] question about the expanded listing of coral species

>My concerns about the CBDs proposed threatened coral species action 
>certainly created some interest among list readers.  I had hoped 
>that by discussing this issue someone would come forward and explain 
>how the listing would save those species when listing of Acropora 
>appeared to have done little. Like Eric Borneman, I wanted to know 
>who and how the species were selected.  What I heard through the 
>list responses was that "it would make people aware of the problem." 
>Unfortunately that will not save any corals since they are not being 
>collected or molested in any significant way. There really is no 
>action that would change Caribbean-wide diseases and water quality 
>issues in the short term. What worries me the most  is that the 
>Florida Keys are already a marine sanctuary that protects all 
>species of corals including those that are not included in the 82 
>species.  Will having NMFS list them  save those in Florida? Maybe 
>they are directing this listing outside of Florida? I think we are 
>all aware that  If Co2 emissions were to cease tomorrow it might 
>take about 50 years before atmospheric and sea water levels returned 
>to pre industrial levels. If that's what is killing them (we really 
>do not know what is killing them in the Caribbean) then they would 
>already be dead by then.
>What we have heard from the CBD attorney on the list was a simply a 
>legal explaination of their action. There was no suggestion as to 
>how NMFS can save corals from storms, and a region wide 
>disease/water quality problem. I did a little checking and found 
>that the CBD has been very successful in badgering governments and 
>using our tax money to do so. During its 20-year exisence CBD has 
>wone close to 90 percent of its 500 cases! For more see the book 
>"Eco Barons: The Dreamers, Schemers and Millionaires Who Are Saving 
>Our Planet." I asked the question earlier, "where do they get their 
>funding" A little investigation revealed a lot. Here is a quote from 
>Budd-Falen Law Offices of Cheyenne, Wyoming document, "Just between 
>Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Georgia, New Mexico, 
>and Washington, the CBD has amassed $6,709,467 in attorneys fees all 
>paid by the taxpayers. That's a pretty good business. I will send 
>the full statement to those who request it. For more about the 
>attorneys and who makes CBD tick go to 
><http://www.tucsoncitizen.com/daily/opinion/113415.php> and finally 
>for a lot of fun go to this site 
><http://www.endangeredspeciescondoms.com/> and learn about CBD birth 
>control devices. I can't wait to order my Staghorn package. Gene PS: 
>The tucsoncitizen website has been removed since I read it yesterday.
>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---------------------------------- 


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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