[Coral-List] A note on coral reef replacement

John McManus jmcmanus at rsmas.miami.edu
Wed Jun 6 12:01:51 EDT 2012


I am currently watching "Incredible Islands: Dubai", and just saw something
quite relevant to reef valuation and concerns about replacing services
provided declining reefs.


Let's ignore for the moment the ecological issues with the 'islands'
project, and look at the design and implementation of the breakwaters. 


The engineers are faced with the challenge of building low-profile, but
highly effective breakwaters. Inspired by reefs in the Maldives, they decide
that the shapes of wave-breaking reef structures are ideal, and confirm this
with lab tests. Now they must obtain enough rocks to build such enormous
structures. Soon, seemingly endless supplies of rocks become limiting, and
parts to keep the huge pool of bulldozers, bucket lifts and transport trucks
become a crucial issue - they have to search the world for the parts they


Climate change will impact far more than corals, forams, and other
organisms. Many hard coral communities will be replaced with soft coral and
seaweed communities. The value to people will decline considerably and
extinctions may increase. However, the underlying structures that protect
thousands of miles of coastlines and thousands of villages throughout the
tropics will be threatened. A select few will be replaced at enormous
expense. The rest will deteriorate, resulting in large scale losses in
beaches, coastlines, and fresh-water lenses. The extremely low-income people
that typify these coastlines will not generally move to farming areas -
there is not enough room or land is too expensive in most countries. Instead
the majority will join slash-and-burn forest dwellers and particularly the
slums of major cities. If you have watched "Slum-Dog Millionaire", the
atrocities you saw there are very common throughout the developing world.
Most people living in slums die young.


I urge people to surf coastlines, especially in SE Asia and East Africa, in
Google Earth to understand this problem. 


Understanding how and over what time periods this deterioration will occur,
and quantifying  its social and economic impacts, will require large, highly
interdisciplinary teams of scientists working closely together.
Unfortunately, I am not aware of a single source of funding anywhere in the
world that does not divide up its funds into so many disjointed and
near-random studies that progress at the whole geo-bio-human reef system
level is nearly impossible. 




John W. McManus, PhD

Director, National Center for Coral Reef Research (NCORE)

Professor, Marine Biology and Fisheries

Coral Reef Ecology and Management Lab (CREM Lab)

Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS)

University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, 33149

 <mailto:jmcmanus at rsmas.miami.edu> jmcmanus at rsmas.miami.edu
<http://ncore.rsmas.miami.edu/> http://ncore.rsmas.miami.edu/

Phone: 305-421-4814   


"Far better an approximate answer to the right question, which is often

   than an exact answer to the wrong question, which can always be made


     --John Tukey, Statistician, National Medal of Science and IEEE Medal of



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