[Coral-List] Forever

Martin Moe martin_moe at yahoo.com
Mon May 16 14:12:59 EDT 2011

Scientists work with hypotheses, numbers, statistics, carefully measured 
observations, scientific descriptions of organisms, and develop understandings 
of temporal changes in biological and physical phenomena; and this is how it 
should be and how it is for coral reef scientists. The complexity of the coral 
reef and associated ecosystems, however, often makes precise science difficult, 
and in pursuit of accuracy and truth we tend to eschew the passion and 
superficiality that permeates most human thought and communication. Thus, I 
realize that there is little room for emotional environmentalism on this list, 
and so I hesitate to make this post (and maybe it won’t even be accepted, and 
that would be OK). Some will say that this list is no place for things like 
this, but others may appreciate such musings. And as discussed at length some 
time ago on this list, we do have to find some way (ways) of communicating the 
necessity of coral reef science and the reasons for conservation, preservation, 
and restoration of our marine ecosystems and marine natural resources to those 
that can see only the surface of the sea. And maybe, just maybe, this might be 
of help with that.
It was the year 1511. The old Calusa sat on the white sand beach of Lower 
Matecumbe Key, watched his grandchildren play in the clear sparkling waters at 
the edge of the island, and knowing that his remaining years were not many, 
contemplated his world. His life had been one with the tropical sea and the 
subtle seasons of these islands, he had never wanted for sustenance or beauty. 
As the world had been for his ancestors, it was for him, and for those who would 
follow him. He knew that the spirits of the earth and sea would always provide 
for the needs of his people. He thought of what he knew about his world.
The innumerable queen conch of the nearby grass beds, they were Forever.
The huge turtles that crawled the beaches and lay their eggs. Forever would they 
do so.
The islands to the west covered with sea birds and their nests. Forever
The giant groupers hiding in the rocks and reefs. Forever 
The mangroves with their roots that reached out to the sea. Forever
The spiny lobsters found everywhere from bay to reef. Forever
The birds that flooded the islands in spring and fall. Forever
The fish of every size, form, and color that lived, according to their needs, in 
every different habitat throughout his world. Forever
The ospreys and cormorants that caught fish with such ease and the eagles and 
frigate birds and sea gulls that stole those fish. Forever 

The sea urchins that lived in the rocks and reefs and buried themselves in the 
grass beds. Forever
The Caribbean monk seal, found on sandy beaches and rocky shores ranged to every 
corner of his world. Forever
The plump sponges that covered the bay bottoms and provide habitat and utility. 
The great living rocks, the foundation of his world, the corals that protected 
the islands during storms and made homes for fish and other creatures of amazing 
form and color. They were Forever
He thought that this was how it was, this is how it is, and this is how it would 
be, Forever. He knew that when his days were done he would still be a part of 
his world and his world was, Forever. And he was content.
Six hundred years later I sit where perhaps he sat so long ago. My grand 
children play in the waters that sparkle just as brightly, but are filled with 
the effluent of a civilization unimaginable not so very long ago. My thoughts 
also wander as my days wind down, as did his. I also love these islands, but I 
am not content. I know that Forever, is not forever.
Martin Moe

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