[Coral-List] Fwd: Diver damage thread

Jay Burkos jayburkos at gmail.com
Fri Aug 2 10:52:13 EDT 2013

Doug and Julian,

I understand both of your views on climate change and how we as
individuals have little ability to cut down on major factors.   (Even
total deniers struggle with how to be better stewards against
pollution, which NO ONE denies is a major problem).

So I explain it like this:  whether a person believes in man impacted
climate shifts or not, a damaged reef must work twice as hard to
repair itself AND survive.   Just like a hospital patient who is
immunologically compromised by AIDS or another similar disease, a
break, cut or other damage creates a major problem that endangers the
entire reef.

By being divers who not only avoid damaging reefs, but actively work
to restore corals and remove debris while lobbying against pollution,
we can actively help in a large way.

That, and kick the guy you catch dumping oil illegally.


Sent from my iPhone

On Aug 2, 2013, at 10:37 AM, Douglas Fenner
<douglasfennertassi at gmail.com> wrote:

> No need for trepidation!  I agree!!  I am sure that the reason that some
> dive operators try to encourage and teach their divers to be more
> responsible about the reef is that it is something they can obviously do to
> help.  Everything they do to protect their local reefs does help, no
> question about that.  Building an environmental ethic in divers is a very
> good thing to do, no question.  Further, ALL of us are frustrated that
> there is so little we can do to make a difference on climate change.  We
> just want to encourage people to start thinking of next steps to add to
> their diver education.  A few comments, hints, that there are other major
> problems that will have to be solved if we are to save reefs, some obvious
> like reducing overfishing, sedimentation and nutrient runoff, and others
> that will take entire societies and the governments to do, like tackling
> climate change.  Like Lad was saying, divers can be champions for reefs.
> We need to encourage that, and encourage them to not only not bash them
> when they're diving, but also support doing meaningful things to move to
> renewable energy.  So far the diving industry seems to be quiet on that, we
> want to encourage people to start thinking about that problem too and
> supporting action.
>     We all have different things we can contribute, and it will take
> everybody working on this to make it happen.  Divers not bashing reefs is
> part of the solution.  Divers and the dive industry speaking up about
> climate change is another part of the solution.  There are lots of other
> parts as well, the list of threats to reefs is long.  It's also good to
> keep in mind which are the big threats worldwide that we absolutely HAVE to
> fix to save reefs, and which are the more minor solutions that are great to
> contribute to as well.  We're saying we need people, including the dive
> industry, to recognize that climate change is one of the biggest threats to
> reefs, and speak up about that as well as champion good diving practices.
>     Cheers,  Doug
> On Fri, Aug 2, 2013 at 2:36 PM, Julian @ Reef Check <julian at reefcheck.org.my
>> wrote:
>> 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
>> www.reefcheck.org.my
>> 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
>> damage.
>>    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
>> http://weather.yahoo.com/global-price-tag-arctic-thawing-60-trillion-1841275
>> 80.html
>> 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
>>> REEF
>>> 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
>>> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
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