[Coral-List] Some encouragement for attending the ICRS

John McManus jmcmanus at rsmas.miami.edu
Mon Aug 8 13:31:04 EDT 2011

Hi all,


The recent discussions may have left a few people bit discouraged about
attending the upcoming ICRS. It will indeed be expensive. However, for those
who can possibly make it, I strongly encourage you to do so. This especially
applies to students and early-career scientists.


There is, in fact,  another reason why the ICRS is held in alternate
locations. It is an attempt to break down one of the worst problems faced by
coral reef scientists - regional paradigms. A scientist who has only seen a
limited range of coral reefs generally develops a limited view of what coral
reefs are like, which tends to be reinforced by others in the same region
with the same problem. In particular, people who have only dived on reefs in
unique areas such as Florida, or the populated Hawaiian Islands will likely
have difficulties visualizing what other reefs are like. No matter how many
films one watches or papers one reads, one can only hope to understand coral
reefs from a comparative standpoint if one has seen a wide variety in
person. Many debates in the history of coral reef science could have been
avoided had the participants each had broader ranges of personal experience.


Australia offers a chance to break down some of another major difficulty -
the shifting baseline. Most coral reef scientists have never seen a really
diverse coral reef with high bottom cover and dense assemblages of fish.
Many have never seen the adults of fish species with which they are
otherwise familiar. If someone has not been on a reef with so many fish that
they block ones view, or been surrounded by multitudes of fish large enough
to make one nervous, then that person probably has a distorted view of what
a natural reef should look like. Not all Australian reefs are pristine, but
the average healthy reef there is likely to be radically different from what
most reef scientists have seen.


The ICRS is a unique opportunity to meet colleagues, generate project ideas,
and re-motivate our important research efforts. However, the opportunity to
do field trips or commercial dive trips is equally important. 


Of course, attendance for many is completely out of the range of
possibility. However, if you aren't sure if taking out a loan or pestering
local embassies for funds to attend is going to be worth the investment, it
may turn out to be so.  It is easily as important as a year of graduate


I have managed, and sometimes struggled, to attend all since the 4th , and
helped out a bit with the 4th and 11th. I greatly appreciate the incredible
amount of work and worry that has gone into putting the upcoming ICRS
together. That level of insane effort is always driven by a strong belief in
the importance of the task. 


I certainly hope that something can be done about broadcasting some of the
presentations. However, if you can possibly attend, I encourage you to do
so. If not, please do at least try to make some future trips to some
relatively pristine, large reefs in area far away from your own.






John W. McManus, PhD

Director, National Center for Coral Reef Research (NCORE)

Professor, Marine Biology and Fisheries

Coral Reef Ecology and Management Lab (CREM Lab)

Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS)

University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, 33149

jmcmanus at rsmas.miami.edu      http://ncore.rsmas.miami.edu/

Phone: 305-421-4814   


  "If I cannot build it, I do not understand it."

              --Richard Feynman, Nobel Laureate


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