[Coral-List] Bring back the Gulf

Eugene Shinn eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu
Fri Aug 22 17:35:12 EDT 2014

Before attending an offshore drilling debate/hearing in Key West over 
30  years ago I to took my friend (Dr. Jim Ray) diving at Looe Key reef. 
On the way out  Jim pointed to the distance and said, "what is that." I 
replied that it was American Shoal lighthouse. He replied, "I didn't 
think you had any drill rigs down here." His comment struck a nerve, 
especially  later that evening when a lady testifying against offshore 
drilling proudly announced that her grandfather was in charge of 
constructing the iron lighthouses on Florida reefs. When Jim testified 
in favor of offshore drilling he was of course roundly booed and hissed. 
Later I read about how lighthouses are constructed and also a report 
about the need for lighthouses to protect ships and cargoes from  coral 
reefs.The later report also stimulated the beginning of coral reef 
research. The author was geologist Alexander Agassiz reporting his 
observations to the head of the lighthouse service.
      I read how reef lighthouses were constructed and that it required 
scarifying and flattening the reef  to allow access of large barges and 
heavy equipment needed to drive iron lighthouse legs into the reef. 
After reading this material I concluded we are fortunate that 
installation of offshore oil rigs in the muddy Gulf of Mexico bottom is 
far less damaging than installation of a lighthouse on a coral reef.  In 
retrospect it seems ironic that oil rigs are considered ugly and 
damaging to the environment while rusty lighthouses are seen as cultural 
icons. If we really need to remove iron from the ocean why not remove 
these antiquated iron lighthouses from the relatively more sensitive 
coral reef environments? GPS has made them obsolete and most in the Keys 
are no longer functioning. They are being replaced with smaller 
automatic light towers. Should we not remove all that rusty idle iron 
along with the tons of old batteries and other junk that litters the 
surrounding area? If one thinks rig removal will bring back the Gulf 
then maybe lighthouse removal will bring back the coral reefs? Or is 
that just being too logical. Maybe Jimmy Buffet's Fruit Cakes Song said 
it all. "We are flawed individuals, The cosmic baker took us out of the 
oven too soon." 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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