[Coral-List] Prioritizing impacts to coral reefs

Eugene Shinn eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu
Fri Apr 18 14:03:45 EDT 2014

Les Kaufman has it right about rugosity. During my college days in the 
1950s several of us essentially made a living spearing fish in the 
Florida Keys. We speared mainly groupers and hog fish. I now know after 
years of geological research that the areas that produced the most fish 
was mainly exposed Pleistocene limestone (Pleistocene coral reef). It 
looked like a reef to us because it had rugosity, ledges, and there were 
the usual sea fans, sponges and ocassional large coral head. It took 
coring and high resolution seismic surveys to reveal that where the meat 
fish were was simply hard ground communities. We stayed away from the 
isolated highly rugose photographically beautiful live reefs. Although 
most are dead now those areas were populated mainly by colorful tropical 
fish and baracuda. Large groupers can't negotiate their way through a 
staghorn thicket very well. It remains an unsolved mystery why most of 
that 150 mile stretch of limestone (where the big fish were) did not 
develop a living reef after  6,000 years under clear water adjacent to 
the Gulfstream.  Prioritizing the causes of reef demise in light of such 
geologic history seems difficult and fraught with incorrect leads. I 
think we still have a lot to learn. Gene


No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
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E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
University of South Florida
College of Marine Science Room 221A
140 Seventh Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
<eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>
Tel 727 553-1158
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