[Coral-List] Bleaching Management - The role of SGD

Eric Grossman egrossman at usgs.gov
Fri Feb 4 14:27:06 EST 2011

Hi Julian, Suwan and Coral-List,
Without seeing your site first hand it is hard to assess the impacts of
swimmers. However, a likely more important issue are stressors that directly
influence water temperatures. I think we need to be careful making
statements like "there is nothing we can do about the warm water causing the
bleaching". Folks like Dennis Hubbard and others have shown that there are
important regional differences in nearshore variability and thermal stress
thresholds indicating the need for regional solutions. We need to focus on
Julian's statement that I paraphrase here...We need to (1) urgently
understand cumulative stressors on corals with emphasis on human impacts to
corals, and (2) recognize that we are part of the ecosystem in order to
improve management and enhance resilience.

We can do something about water temperatures in many areas by improving
management of water quantity and quality, especially *groundwater* that
flows into many coastal settings as *submarine groundwater discharge (SGD)*.
*This is a tangible management policy that we can affect and urgently needed
to achieve adaptive management to regional climate change*. We are finding
evidence that SGD flux to reefs on many high islands (maybe even atolls) can
be sufficient to buffer thermal stress and bleaching associated with rising
SSTs. The problem is that human activities are often reducing SGD flux to
the coast through excessive groundwater extraction and adding excess
contaminant to groundwater from urban/agricultural runoff/infiltration,
which minimizes the ecosystem services of SGD to buffer thermal stress and
can lead to eutrophia, impacts to coral health (disease, growth anomalies)
and changes in food-webs.

The issue is similar to low in-stream flow impacts to temperature- and
flow-sensitive fishes resulting from stream and groundwater diversions. The
challenge for corals is that SGD is "out of sight and out of mind" but
perhaps key to protecting coral reef diversity and function in light of
increasing thermal impacts from climate change, in the form of rising air
and water temperature as well as changes in precipitation and runoff/SGD.
The solution lies in our willingness to acknowledge that we are part of the
ecosystem and to manage our impacts to enhance ecosystem resilience, coral
reef health and valued coral reef (and SGD) ecosystem services.

Eric - U.S. Geological Survey Coral Reef Project

2011/2/2 suwan Pi <suwanpita at hotmail.com>

> Dear Julian,
> Thank you for your comment and helpful experience from Malaysia. We mostly
> know what we can do to reduce the stress from the reef. However, some
> managers who tried to apply the regulations to cope with the bleching events
> would experienced the difficulty like in Malaysia.
> That is my major concern.
> This is some of my questions about the efficiency of the regulations we
> think it is good:
> Is closing the site is the best way to reduce the stress to the reef ?
> (consequences, lack of enforcement, lost of economic benefit, fishing boat
> with less environment control onboard always take over the areas, more
> divers from closed sites move to open sites )
> I really love any arguments from your idea and expericence.
> Suwan
> > From: julian at reefcheck.org.my
> > To: suwanpita at hotmail.com
> > Subject: RE: [Coral-List] Bleaching Management
> > Date: Tue, 1 Feb 2011 14:35:34 +0800
> >
> > Hi Suwan
> >
> > Julian here, from Reef Check Malaysia. I am not really a scientist, but I
> do
> > follow the list and I am involved (try to be!) in coral reef management.
> >
> > We have been following the bleaching here in Malaysia since early last
> year,
> > and we were involved in efforts by the Department of Marine Parks
> Malaysia
> > to get some sites closed to diving.
> >
> > If you look at some references on reef resilience (just google reef
> > resilience if you haven't already done so!), you will see that the main
> > problem is that there is nothing we can do about the warm water causing
> the
> > bleaching. All we can do is remove all other stresses from the reefs so
> that
> > we increase their chances to recover from the bleaching. Think of it as a
> > sick human being: if that human being is tired, stressed, lacks exercise
> and
> > has a poor diet, then illness is more likely to strike. But if you remove
> > all those other problems, then the human is either more likely to
> withstand
> > the illness, or will recover more quickly.
> >
> > So we supported and joined in the move to close some dive sites in
> > Peninsular Malaysia last year (round the main diving destinations on the
> > East coast - Perhentian, Redang and Tioman), to remove as many stresses
> as
> > possible (divers, snorkelers, boats, anchors, fuel leaks, fishing, etc)
> and
> > let the corals recover. Unfortunately, the closure programme didn't work
> so
> > well, as it was poorly implemented. But it was still a good idea. So I
> > support your moves and recommend you go ahead and enforce closures. You
> need
> > to do what we need to do - convince operators that it is in their long
> term
> > interest, even though it might hurt today...
> >
> > I am sorry to say that as coral reef managers I don't know what more you
> can
> > do, other than start to address the other stresses on reefs. Here in
> > Malaysia these include:
> >
> > - pollution from poorly treated sewage, which is a problem in areas where
> > tourism has developed very quickly and resorts don't have proper
> > infrastructure
> > - siltation from rivers from land clearing/forestry
> > - destructive fishing, as dynamite fishing is still common here,
> > particularly in East Malaysia.
> >
> > The best references I can suggest are:
> >
> > - "A Reef Manager's Guide to Coral Bleaching", by Paul Marshall and Heidi
> > Schuttenberg, and you can get a copy on-line (let me know if you can't
> find
> > it)
> > - "Resilience Assessment of Coral Reefs" from IUCN. You can get that at
> > http://www.iucn.org/cccr/publications/
> >
> > Hope this is some help, and good luck! Let me know how you get on with
> the
> > stakeholder meeting!
> >
> > Regards
> >
> > Julian Hyde
> > General Manager
> > Reef Check Malaysia Bhd
> > 03 2161 5948
> > www.reefcheck.org.my
> > Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rcmalaysia
> >
> > "The bottom line of the Millenium Asessment findings is that human
> actions
> > are depleting Earth's natural capital, putting such strain on the
> > environment that the ability of the planet's ecosystems to sustain future
> > generations can no longer be taken for granted."
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> > [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of suwan Pi
> > Sent: Monday, 31 January, 2011 7:02 PM
> > To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> > Subject: [Coral-List] Bleaching Management
> >
> >
> > Dear coral lover,
> >
> > My name is Suwan from National Park, Thailand. Since, we had very bad
> > bleaching last year and manager try to close some dive sites for both
> scuba
> > and snorkeling. However, it seem that only this action is not enough to
> heal
> > severe damage reefs.
> >
> > Next week, we will conduct a meeting between various stakeholders (tour
> > operators, organizations and NGOs). I do appreciate any comments from
> your
> > experiences for coral managment after the situations.
> >
> > Suwan
> >
> >
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

Eric E. Grossman, PhD
Research Geologist, U.S. Geological Survey
Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center*
Currently located at* USGS Western Fisheries Research Center
6505 NE 65th St., Seattle, WA 98115
206-526-6282 <tel:+12065266282>x334 (office)
Fax: 206-526-6654 <tel:+12065266654>
email: egrossman at usgs.gov


More information about the Coral-List mailing list