[Coral-List] Impact of listing 66 coral species on coral research

mtupper mtupper at coastal-resources.org
Sat Dec 15 22:07:25 EST 2012

Hi Dennis et al.,

I had the good fortune to spend 18 months in the Turks & Caicos Islands, doing
2-3 dives per day on some amazing Acropora palmata reefs.  I have also spent
several weeks in Cayo Largo off southern Cuba, enjoying the acres of A. palmata
there. The one thing those A. palmata colonies in the TCI and southern Cuba have
in common are that both sites are far from any significant human populations and
their associated input of sewage, sediment and other deleterious substances.
Much of the  Archipielago de los Canarreos off southern Cuba is "reserved" for
tourists, and there are only a couple of small resorts in the entire
archipelago.  Access to the area by Cuban nationals (including fishermen) is
restricted, which is no doubt why the shallow inshore lagoon is just stuffed
with conch, lobster, and huge rainbow and midnight parrotfish, in addition to
amazing live coral cover (of many species, not just A. palmata). You won't see
reefs that spectacular anywhere near Havana or Varadero.

While I agree with you that reefs can be highly variable in time and space, it
may be that the examples that you chose (high cover of live A. palmata in TCI
and southern Cuba) exist in their current "happy" condition because they have
not been subjected to the usual bombardment of human influences. Or, as you
suggest, their "happiness" may result from an oceanographic peculiarity causing
high larval retention/recruitment, or some physiologically ideal combination of
temperature, salinity, micronutrients, or whatever. Or not. Perhaps those areas
actually represent what a typical Caribbean coral reef looked like 100 years
ago, before human activities started trashing them. They reminded me of John
Lewis' 1960 photos of Bellairs Reef in Barbados, which was absolutely
spectacular 50 years ago, but no longer exists due to heavy sedimentation from
road and building construction, chlorinated swimming pool inputs, and a host of
other insults.

For now, I keep an eye on the "house reef" off the back porch of my house in
Camiguin (as often as I can fly out there), and hope that it doesn't go sideways
quite as fast as many other reefs have, given that there are over 80,000 people
living on that 238 km2 island, and 90% of them are living right on the


Dr. Mark Tupper
Coastal Resources Association
207-10822 City Parkway, Surrey, BC, Canada V3T 0C2
Email: mtupper at coastal-resources.org
Tel. 1-604-588-1674; Mobile: 1-604-961-2022

Philippines Office:
Poblacion, Sagay, Camiguin, Philippines 9103
Tel. 63-927-921-9915

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