[Coral-List] Fwd: Diver damage thread

Julian @ Reef Check julian at reefcheck.org.my
Thu Aug 1 21:36:10 EDT 2013

It is with trepidation that I raise a voice in an argument with Doug, with
all his years of experience, but here goes.

Yes, climate change is an important factor. But how many of us really feel
we can do something about it? 

But maybe we can do something to change behaviour on an individual basis and
turn the people who are damaging reefs (and they are legion) into people who
care for reefs. Maybe this group could then be motivated to help to address,
or at least start lobbying about, the wider issues such as climate change. 

I think I've said enough on this thread now! But many thanks to those of you
who have responded with some useful suggestions.

Julian Hyde
General Manager
Reef Check Malaysia Bhd
03 2161 5948
Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rcmalaysia


"The bottom line of the Millenium Assessment findings is that human actions
are depleting Earth's natural capital, putting such strain on the
environment that the ability of the planet's ecosystems to sustain future
generations can no longer be taken for granted."

-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Douglas Fenner
Sent: Thursday, 1 August, 2013 9:07 AM
To: coral list
Subject: [Coral-List] Fwd: Diver damage thread

Well said, Lad, I agree.

    I fully support minimizing diver damage.  We need to reduce all kinds of
human-produced damaging effects on coral reefs.  Lad and Steve keep bringing
up climate change.  What does that have to do with diver damage??
Diver damage is important, isn't it??  But they are right.  Climate change
is the 800 pound gorilla in the corner of the room.  If we don't do anything
about that, we could stop all diver damage, and it would be like
re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
    In fact, if you look at any assessment or rating or ranking of the
causes of coral reef decline around the world, diver damage is always near
the bottom of the list.  Please correct me if I'm wrong.  If I remember,
"Reefs at Risk" lists overfishing and destructive fishing as the Number One
LOCAL threat to coral reefs, pollution (including sedimentation, nutrient
runoff and chemical pollution) as the other big threat.  The top GLOBAL and
future threats to coral reefs are climate change and acidification.   The
extensive review of threats by the NOAA team reviewing the petition for
endangered coral status came to the same conclusion, as have others.
These are the big things that we have to take care of if we are going to
have reefs left decades from now.
    I do not mean to under-estimate the threat from divers.  In some
locations they can do serious damage, there are published papers
demonstrating this.  But we need to keep it in perspective.  Coral disease
has killed vastly more coral in the Caribbean & Florida than divers.  A
single hurricane can kill millions, maybe billions of tons of coral.  I saw
corals in Cozumel recovering after Hurricane Gilbert, in spite of 2000 dives
a day on just 15 miles of reefs.  Reefs are fully capable of recovering from
hurricanes, hurricanes have been going on for hundreds of millions of years
and the reefs are still here (granted, they are brief events while human
caused stress is chronic).
    SO, while I support reducing diver damage, and it is important in some
areas, if that is the primary focus of concern for us, and for the dive
industry, we are going to loose the reefs, and it IS re-arranging the deck
chairs on the Titanic.  We have to solve the big problems, the primary
causes of reef decline or else we are wasting our time on reducing diver
    Steve and Lad are fundamentally right, if the public (including the dive
industry) and governments don't get to work in a serious way on climate
change, we are going to loose the coral reef ecosystems (they will become
dominated by algae and be algae beds with a few scattered corals).
We as a world community are going to loose a lot more, too.  A recent study
found that just the release of methane from Siberian permafrost caused by
global warming, will cause (if we let global warming continue) about $60
TRILLION dollars damage in addition to the rest of the damage climate change
will do, which is much larger.  That is just less than a whole year
of the whole world economy ($70 trillion).    Think what that will do to
the world economy, and you realize the magnitude of the threat.  Killing off
coral reef ecosystems, bad as it would be, would be a small part of the
problem for humanity.

Global Price Tag for Arctic Thawing: $60 Trillion

Cheers,  Doug

On Wed, Jul 31, 2013 at 5:40 AM, Lad Akins <Lad at reef.org> wrote:

> HI All,
> I've been reading the diver impact thread over the last few days - it 
> seems to flare up every year or two and I'd like to throw in another 
> slightly different point of view to consider.  In most parts of the 
> world, especially the Caribbean, diver damage is an undetectable 
> signal compared to natural disturbances and other human induced 
> impacts (storms, bleaching, ocean acidification, overfishing, etc).  
> Yes, it's easy to point a finger at a diver touching the bottom or a 
> wayward gauge, but look at what happens in one winter blow, not even a 
> hurricane, or from turtles grazing on sponges and you'll see more 
> damage than divers cause in a year.  I'm not saying we shouldn't 
> encourage good behavior, proper buoyancy control and a better 
> understanding of the marine ecosystem, but realistically, putting 
> significant time and effort into diver regulation is not going to 
> solve any problems.
> Thinking more broadly about conservation of coral reefs, divers and 
> snorkelers are the true supporters of conservation efforts.  If it 
> were not for them (us - if you venture into the sea to conduct your 
> research, for you too are a diver), who would provide public support 
> for protection of this resource unseen to most?  How many of us reach 
> out to the public to help them better understand the issue?  A few on 
> the list preach communication of scientific research to the public, 
> but most on the list are content to conduct research (often diving to 
> do so), and publish the results in a journal read only by peers.  
> Protection of coral reef ecosystems is only going to come with broad 
> public support.  And public support is not going to come from those 
> who don't have the opportunity to learn about the sea first-hand. 
> Restricting divers to distant viewing of marine life is only going to 
> reduce the intimate connections with the reef system that are 
> necessary to build support for difficult decisions that do matter.
> I caution the easy finger pointing towards an industry who brings the 
> vast majority of stakeholders into the conservation family.  I would 
> encourage the discussion of regulation on water quality issues, 
> protection from overharvest and clean energy.  Tough issues, but ones 
> that will make a real difference.
> Lad
> **************************
> Lad Akins
> Director of Special Projects
> P O Box 370246
> 98300 Overseas Hwy
> Key Largo FL 33037
> (305) 852-0030 w
> (305) 942-7333 c
> www.REEF.org
> Lad at REEF.org
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
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