[Coral-List] Subject: Prioritizing Impacts to Coral Reefs

Rudy Bonn rudy_bonn at yahoo.com
Thu Apr 24 10:25:16 EDT 2014

I thought I read somewhere in this thread about someone
            wanting to know what John Q. Public might think about how to
            prioritize impacts to coral reefs?  Is this true?  Anyway,
            I'm  a member of the general public, I have worked on coral
            reefs with NOAA, I do not have a doctorate, although I have
            had the pleasure of working with some where I found myself
            to be a 100 times more in tune with coral reef ecology and
            other related issues than they were, if you get my drift (
            no pun intended ).  Now, I also have to take into
            consideration scale, so talking from a regional scale with
            some issues that could certainly be extrapolated into larger
            spatial and well, why not, temporal scales too.  Funny thing,
            I think the answers are right in my backyard-- The Florida

Now imagine the reefs of the Keys say 5 to 4000 years bp.  And that's exactly what we have to do-- imagine, although we can get some ideas about diversity and possibly live cover, algae cover, even some hints of contamination I would suspect too from cores that Gene and his colleagues drilled out and that could explain the information gained from cores a lot better than I.  Now, I imagine the recent emergence of these Holocene reefs ( south of Key Largo )  came about in a natural way-- sea level changes, etc., and the coastal Indians probably being the only humans utilizing the reefs resources at the time without much in the way of negative impacts and I imagine things were pretty nice, perhaps pristine, with very high live coral cover and when you snorkel the Keys today what do you see?  What has happened between now and then?  It doesn't take a coral reef scientist to figure that out--  We came along! We started developments, we started fishing,
 we started polluting, we started cutting down mangroves, sedimentation increased, septic systems installed ( with holes in the bottoms of the tanks mind you that would allow them to sort of move with the water table due to the porous texture of the substrate and the dynamics that comes along with it, and  should we include lack of foresight or ignorance when we set down our priorities ) along with all the other changes that took place ( chemical introduction; in time we nearly wiped out the largest predator on the reef, gasoline and oil discharges, ad infinitum, sincerely yours, John Q. Public.

And readers we all know that the aforementioned activities and their effects are just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.

Do we see these same impacts globally, do we see the highest
            levels of CO2 in the air since the Permian extinction, that began their upward trajectory only about 225 years ago with the dawn of the industrial revolution, and how
            many more of us are there on the planet, do we see deforestation to build more farms to feed more people, can the residents of places like Bejing even breathe their own air without negative effects upon their health-- is there an end in sight-- the bitter end perhaps?

John Q. Public may be better informed than we think!  So, now what do we do?  Lobby the politicians, increase regulatory measures concerning certain industries, stiffer punishments for the offenders?  What do you do when you see someone flip over a 100 year old coral head for a lobster or see divers shooting the reef while missing the lionfish, or when you see people standing on a reef while on a snorkel trip with a well known business whose only motive is to get as many paying customers as possible on their trips! 

I have seen all of these things within the last year!

What are you going to say to a youngster who's only reference to a coral reef are old pictures?
What are you going to say?  

Rudy S Bonn
Marine Educator/Biologist
Miami, Florida

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