[Coral-List] 3 Things You Didn't See on "60 Minutes"

Billy Causey billy.causey at noaa.gov
Tue Jan 3 17:03:13 EST 2012

Thank you for this even and thoughtful response.  I agree with what you
have pointed out.  It was with great anticipation that I eagerly waited for
the airing of the 60 Minute episode on Cuba's Coral Reefs.  In April,
thanks to EDF (Dan Whittle) and others, I had my first chance to dive off
the south coast of Isle of Youth (Pines) in Cuba.   It was not the Gardens
of the Queen, but all I heard was how much better the corals were there, as
compared to where we were diving.  It was hard to imagine ...for where we
were diving there were great stands of Acropora palmata and other species.
 The corals were not without their problems, but comparatively speaking
they were the healthiest coral reefs I had seen for years in the Caribbean.

We can only hope for accuracy in story-telling .... but as you have pointed
out, so much of that is out of our control.  Every once in a while, when we
see a special reef or visit an area that is healthier than another, we need
to celebrate and remind ourselves that not all is lost.  Or otherwise, why
are any of us devoting our careers and lives to something that is so lost
in other people's minds?  I am determined to help make it better for my
grandchildren.  Peer review hasn't saved one coral reef yet! As necessary
as it is in our business, it does not trump passion and emotion.

To all of my friends ... please take this in the spirit of a New Year!
 Happy New Year!!  Billy

On Fri, Dec 30, 2011 at 9:06 AM, Tunnell, Wes <Wes.Tunnell at tamucc.edu>wrote:

> Coral-List,
> To echo Gregor's sentiment about how much effort goes into getting on 60
> Minutes and preparing and executing one short piece, please see the note
> below from David Guggenheim. There is a time and place for peer review, and
> it is usually among peers in journals and on review panels. Interviewees
> have little control over what is aired. Showing that program to over 18
> million people could have started a conversation important to our science,
> so we should not be too picky with its science content, and celebrate that
> it even got aired.
> Although most of you probably do not have time to read the long message
> below, it gives you a good sense of what else was covered and what was left
> out.
> Regards,
> Wes
> John W. (Wes) Tunnell, Jr., Ph.D.
> Associate Director, Harte Research Institute
> for Gulf of Mexico Studies and Harte Research Scientist
> Regents Professor and Professor of Biology
> Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
> 6300 Ocean HRI 318C, MS 5869
> Corpus Christi, Texas 78412
> Phone: 361-825-2055
> Fax: 361-825-2050
> wes.tunnell at tamucc.edu
> HRI:   http://www.harteresearchinstitute.org
> Gulfbase: http://www.gulfbase.org
> "Life is a journey that's measured not in  miles or years but in
> experiences"
> Jimmy Buffett. A Pirate Looks at Fifty, 1998
> -----Original Message-----
> From: The Ocean Doctor [mailto:info at oceandoctor.org]
> Sent: Thursday, December 29, 2011 1:50 PM
> To: Tunnell, Wes
> Subject: 3 Things You Didn't See on "60 Minutes"
> Dear Wes,
> If you missed the recent 60 MINUTES broadcast featuring Anderson Cooper
> and The Ocean Foundation's work exploring and protecting spectacular coral
> reefs and sharks in Cuba, you can watch it online
> at: http://oceandoctor.org/iem/link.php?M=449&N=51&L=112&F=T.
> I can't adequately express my thanks to the hundreds of you from whom I
> have received emails, phone calls and text messages from around the world.
> I've heard from many friends and colleagues I haven't heard from in
> decades, including a number of pals from grade school who somehow still
> recognized me!
> Like many of you, I grew up watching 60 MINUTES and for me, after more
> than four decades on the air it still stands as one of the finest news
> programs on TV. After nervously awaiting the end of the football game (had
> it run 3 minutes longer they might have cut the segment and not shown it
> for months), I watched with a smile as they told the story with meticulous
> accuracy, stunning visuals and a touch of humor. I was especially pleased
> that the story powerfully conveyed a dire conservation message while also
> providing a needed dose of uplifting hope. 60 MINUTES finished the week as
> the second-most watched primetime television broadcast in America. The
> program drew 18.47 million viewers to rank #2, its highest weekly in-season
> finish since Dec. 27, 2009.
> Producing this short 12-minute segment required an incredible effort over
> a period of months. As you can imagine, there are stories to tell and much
> material that didn't make the final cut that was broadcast and over the
> coming weeks I'll share a number of those stories, along with
> behind-the-scenes photos and videos. Today I want to share three things you
> didn't see in the broadcast:
> *********************************
> (1) MY FACE
> I can't even imagine the expression on my face when, this past spring, I
> retrieved the voicemail from 60 MINUTES producer, Anya Bourg, who informed
> me that they wanted to do a piece about coral reefs. For years many of us
> have been finding it quite a struggle to build awareness about our oceans,
> which have long remained a virtually untold story. Only in recent years has
> the plight of the world's oceans started to get some of the attention it
> deserves.
> Not only did Anya want to tell the important story of the threats to coral
> reefs, but her vision was to do it by visiting a place that was healthy so
> viewers could clearly see the contrast between a healthy reef and a
> degraded reef and therefore understand what we're losing. From the
> incredible feedback I've received, I know her vision was a resounding
> success and also provided viewers with inspiring imagery and hope for the
> future of coral reefs.
> *********************************
> One of the things you didn't get to see was the spectacular vessel where
> Anderson and I were perched for our above-water interview:
> The M/Y Sirenuse. Her owner and member of The Ocean Foundation's board,
> Ann Luskey, bravely dealt with mountains of red tape and maddening
> logistics and brought the vessel to Cuba to support our research work this
> summer. Thanks to Ann and the wonderful captain and crew of the Sirenuse,
> we were able to bring our collaboration with Cuban scientists to a new
> level. I'll never be able to thank Ann enough and feel so lucky to know and
> work with someone like her.
> We worked with the 60 MINUTES producers to coordinate our work in Cuba's
> Gardens of the Queen (Jardines de la Reina) with the visit of Anderson
> Cooper and the film crew. Unfortunately, the bulk of our colleagues from
> the University of Havana's Center for Marine Research (Centro de
> Investigaciones Marinas, CIM) -- our principal Cuban partner for more than
> a decade -- would arrive and depart a few weeks before the 60 MINUTES team
> arrived.
> CIM is the only institution in Cuba where marine biologists are
> accredited, and one of the proudest accomplishments of our work is the fact
> that for more than 11 years our joint research projects with CIM have
> helped support the Master's and Doctoral theses of dozens of students. In
> this way we have helped to train the next generation of Cuban marine
> scientists, who are entering their careers thinking of Americans as friends
> and colleagues, not enemies. Some of the students we helped are now in
> positions of leadership at CIM, including its vice director.
> As an American, working in Cuba is profoundly difficult, and I must
> confess that I almost quit out of frustration at least three times. Our
> Cuban colleagues work so hard with so little. Their absolute passion for
> their work and the oceans, despite the hardships, is what has brought me
> back to Cuba 60 times over the years. The conditions they work under are
> almost unimaginable for a 21st-century scientist almost anywhere else in
> the world. They have almost no access to Internet, their limited supply of
> equipment is old and in disrepair, and they lack simple pieces of equipment
> without which it would seem marine science would be impossible -- like GPS.
> As one of our Cuban colleagues put it, their research vessel is "made of
> stone" -- it has a ferrocement hull and is quite old.
> On top of everything else, our Cuban colleagues lack adequate funds for
> fuel and transportation, so many of the students learning to become marine
> biologists have no way to visit Cuba's incredible marine ecosystems, nor do
> many of the scientists themselves. In June we provided the funds necessary
> for a research team from CIM to visit Jardines de la Reina. It's a 6-hour
> bus ride from Havana and then another 6 hours by boat. But for our Cuban
> colleagues, Jardines might as well have been on Mars -- the expense of such
> a journey was far beyond the reach of CIM, its scientists and students.
> On the morning of June 13th a vessel approached the stern of the
> Sirenuse: It was our colleagues from CIM, who came aboard for a half day
> of meetings to discuss our research. For most of them -- both students and
> faculty -- this was their first time in Jardines. What I remember the most
> is their incredible smiles. At last they were at sea, doing what marine
> scientists are supposed to do -- getting wet, collecting data and observing
> the ocean's splendor, free of the noise and concrete confines of Havana.
> I wish you could have seen our colleagues' smiles, too. And calling them
> "colleagues" seems a bit formal. They're friends -- great friends --
> incredible friends. Cubans and Americans are natural allies just waiting
> for the chance to be together again.
> *********************************
> During our interview, Anderson Cooper asked me to talk about Alonso. This
> part of the interview was not aired.
> Eduardo Alonso Ramos, whom everyone knew as Alonso, and his fellow CIM
> technician, Lachi, had been aboard Sirenuse meeting with the captain and me
> as they were planning to collect data at a number of sites between Havana
> and Jardines de la Reina. On May 5th, we were supposed to have our final
> prep meeting aboard ship, but they never arrived. The next morning, I
> learned why. Alonso was filling a SCUBA tank at CIM when it exploded,
> killing him instantly. He was only 41. He left a pregnant wife, 36.
> Alonso absolutely loved the sea. It was his life. When we met last week
> his eyes were wide with excitement about getting out on the water with us,
> and he took delight in the thought of making four exhausting dives per day
> swimming special 3D video equipment above the reef with Lachi. He was a
> sailor, a divemaster, an expert technician. Alonso's long hair, tanned skin
> and fit physique evidenced the fact that he spent every moment he could
> around the water.
> That morning I went to CIM to pay my respects. It was clear everyone there
> had been crying, and seeing me, they cried some more. CIM is a small
> institute that's always felt more like a family than the arm of a
> university. Lachi entered the office I was in. We embraced.  He left
> without saying a word. He didn't have to.
> Representatives from the Ministry of Interior and police were already
> there, examining the accident scene. There was no time to grieve.
> Like the 60-year-old old Edsels and Buicks on the road, the Cubans work to
> squeeze every drop of life out of every precious piece of equipment they
> have, even if it puts their own lives at risk. The SCUBA tank Alonso had
> tried to fill -- as a favor to a friend -- was manufactured in 1985 and had
> never been properly tested for metal fatigue.
> I left a small amount of cash for Alonso's wife and a bit for CIM to help
> with the damage to their building. The Ocean Foundation dedicated its Cuba
> Expedition 2011 to the memory of Alonso. In spirit he was with us out there
> on the water he loved so much.
> When Sirenuse returned to Havana at the end of the expedition, we
> offloaded all nine SCUBA tanks and donated them to CIM, which had only two
> remaining reliable tanks in its supply.
> *********************************
> One more thing that wasn't included in the broadcast: The dependence of
> our work on people like you. Because of the US economic embargo against
> Cuba, we are unable to receive US government funding for our work, so 100%
> of our efforts are funded by private foundations and individuals.
> The Ocean Foundation's Cuba Marine Research and Conservation Program is
> built on more than 12 years of work in Cuba, working
> to:
> -ensure enduring, locally-supported marine research and conservation
> programs in Cuba.
> -contribute to major advances in the scientific understanding of Cuba's
> natural resources.
> -achieve meaningful, long-lasting conservation for Cuba's marine
> ecosystems and shared ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico.
> -forge long-term collaborative relationships with our Cuban colleagues.
> -help train the next generation of Cuban marine scientists.
> Please help us continue to make a difference:
> http://oceandoctor.org/iem/link.php?M=449&N=51&L=113&F=T
> A portion of your donations will help support Alonso's family.
> Please accept my warmest wishes for a joyful, peaceful and Happy New Year.
> Sincerely,
> David E. Guggenheim, Ph.D.
> Senior Fellow/Director, Cuba Marine Research & Conservation Program
> P.S. We CAN save coral reefs -- spread the word!
> Learn more about our work in Cuba:
> http://oceandoctor.org/iem/link.php?M=449&N=51&L=114&F=T
> Unsubcribe me from this list:
> http://oceandoctor.org/iem/unsubscribe.php?M=449&C=1029fadbf0564df8cedce9f55bdc600a&L=1&N=51
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Billy D. Causey, Ph.D.
Regional Director
Southeast Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Region
NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
33 East Quay Road
Key West, Florida 33040

Office:  305 809 4670 (ex 234)
Mobile: 305 395 0150
Fax:     305 293 5011
Email:  Billy.Causey at noaa.gov

Will Our Grandchildren Remember Us For What We Conserved and Protected or
For What We Let Slip Away?

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