[Coral-List] Bring back the Gulf

jsfajans jsfajans at earthlink.net
Mon Aug 25 11:30:09 EDT 2014

Dear Gene,

As someone who has spent a great deal of time on and under the lighthouses
in the Florida Keys over the last 9 years to provide maintenance to
monitoring stations, I agree with you that perhaps the discussion needs to
be had about what to do with them for the future.  As the structures
themselves continue to deteriorate without maintenance, there will come a
time in the not-too-distant future that they may come down in a storm.

That being said, I think it is important to point out that the rest of your
lighthouse information is factually inaccurate.  Most of the lighthouses in
the Keys actually ARE still in operation - (the exception being Sand Key
Light that has been replaced as a NAV AID with a smaller structure), and
although they may no longer share the navigational importance they once had,
they most assuredly are still used for local navigation and the lights
continue to be supported.  Several are host to NOAA C-MAN (Coastal-Marine
Automated Network) Stations that provide valuable meteorological information
to the National Weather Service, and most have VTS (Vessel Traffic Service)
transponders on them for the offshore shipping lanes.  Most of the scrap
metal found underneath them now have hard corals growing on them.  This
presents a whole new can of worms when it comes to removal and may do more
harm than good.  Finally, there are NO lighthouses in the Keys that have old
batteries in the debris field.  All of those were cleaned up under contract
paid for by the US Coast Guard (at great expense) in the early 90's when the
common practice of discarding old batteries over the side was discontinued
because of environmental concerns.  All batteries used by the USCG today
have serial numbers for tracking and are logged in and out of field use to
ensure they remain out of the water.

Kind regards,
Jon Fajans

-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Eugene Shinn
Sent: Friday, August 22, 2014 5:35 PM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: [Coral-List] Bring back the Gulf

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)
------------------------------------ -----------------------------------
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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