[Coral-List] Prioritizing impacts to coral reefs

Nicole Crane nicrane at cabrillo.edu
Fri Apr 18 14:20:28 EDT 2014

Indeed, I've observed the same.  However, the story, as we all know, is 
not so simple.  The more rugose live reefs provide habitat for juvenile 
fish, and very likely provide an important link to those populations of 
larger grouper on the flatter reefs.  Fish (many), as we know, utilize a 
variety of habitats and substrates throughout their lives, as well as 
food preference.  The systems are intricately linked.  This is why I 
wish we had more interdisciplinary projects.  Geologists can tell 
biologists things they may not have thought about, and biologists can 
help geologists understand life history linkages.  Not to mention the 
importance of oceanographers...and the list goes on.  I wish we weren't 
so insular in our frameworks in this country - starting in college where 
we began to understand how research progresses.

We are at a time in history now where we need more than ever to tie 
stories together...


On 4/18/14, 11:03 AM, Eugene Shinn wrote:
> 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

Nicole L. Crane
Cabrillo College
Division of Natural and Applied Sciences
nicrane at cabrillo.edu

Oceanic Society
Senior Conservation Scientist

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