[Coral-List] Reef research needs

Eugene Shinn eshinn at marine.usf.edu
Tue Oct 25 15:54:08 EDT 2011

Thanks Christopher, You are correct. I should not have used the 
social engineering term. It does work both ways. However, I still 
feel strongly that we have taken the wrong bus by not insisting that 
the full effects of mosquito pesticides on corals be thoroughly 
investigated. Also, diesel oil is used as the carrier and that alone 
is generally considered toxic to coral reefs. Below is a better 
account of the situation from a larger communication I recently sent 
to sanctuary management. Gene

     I looked at the National Marine Sanctuaries Condition 
Reports-Florida, http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/science/condition/  and 
was interested to see the segment  under Habitat, number 7. The 
question there is, "What are the contaminant concentrations in 
sanctuary habitats and how are they changing? The answer given is, 
"Few studies, but no synthesis of information."  What about the 
sewage issue which is presently being addressed with a new sewage 
system and the huge compilation of Florida Keys environmental issues 
discussed in Bill Kruczynski's book which is in press? And what about 
      At many meetings  I have brought up the fact that there have 
been few if any studies related to the effect of aerial mosquito 
spraying on corals and coral habitats. Everyone in the Keys knows the 
pesticide and diesel mix kills mosquitoes and butterflies and 
certainly it must kill other insects yet no one has done a simple 
toxicity study to see if it affects corals. I point out that places 
like the Keys Marine lab where they keep live organisms in open tanks 
have for years been put off limits for the spray planes. That seems a 
clear demonstration that the pesticide is considered hazardous to 
marine organisms. Also I am aware that the study of conch larvae at 
the Keys Marine Lab showed they grow slower, or not at all, in near 
shore Keys waters compared to offshore waters.  So after all these 
years why has NOAA not funded (or asked for) a well planned study to 
determine the effects of pesticides on coral reef communities? 
Apparently NOAA and the State of Florida DEP must take the word of 
the manufacturer that these pesticides target only mosquitoes. 
Recently because of a huge increase in mosquitoes the state-funded 
spray planes have switched back to malathion. Common sense tells us 
that malathion can not be healthy for corals. Yes I know they try to 
avoid spraying over water but anything that lands in the hardwoods 
and mangroves where the mosquitoes breed becomes runoff either on the 
surface or in the groundwater which our earlier studies show moves 
seaward toward the coral reefs with each tidal change.
     I am aware that the pesticide issue is probably off limits for 
economic and political reasons but nevertheless was pleased to see 
that the report was honest in this respect.


No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
------------------------------------ -----------------------------------
E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
University of South Florida
College of Marine Science Room 221A
140 Seventh Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
<eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
Tel 727 553-1158---------------------------------- 

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