[Coral-List] Bring back the Gulf

Eugene Shinn eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu
Mon Aug 25 15:01:23 EDT 2014

Thanks Jon, I can assure you that Carysfort light is no longer working. 
I anchored behind the reef and spent the night there twice in the last 
two months. There is now a tower on pilings about 1/4 mile NW of the 
lighthouse with a strong strobe light. I tried but could not figure out 
the time delays of flashes. Its appeared to be random. I found a couple 
of old batteries close to  the light house. They were only visible 
because parrot fish have chewed away the now dead coral that once grew 
over them.  I would agree the batteries have no serious affect and am 
happy to hear they have been removed from other lights. I once made a 
nice profit selling the copper I collected under the lights. I can say 
that all the A. /palmata/ that once grew in profusion seaward and  south 
of Carysfort  light is all dead and being rapidly consumed and converted 
to sand by parrot fish and schools of blue tangs. Very few of the large 
/Montastraea sp /to the SW and behind the reef flat at Carysfort are 
still alive. We had cored many of the several hundred-year-old heads in 
the early 1980s when they were thriving. See: Hudson, J. H., 1981, 
Growth rates in Montastraea annularis: a record of environmental change 
in Key Largo Coral Reef Marine Sanctuary, /Bulletin of Marine Science, 
31 (2) p 444-459. /  The large brain coral there that I have been 
photographing every year since 1960 has only two spots less than a foot 
across with living tissue. I should mention that Phil Dustan did 
extensive studies of /A. palmata/ growth at Carysfort in the 1970s. We 
were diving there together in August this year. He will verify these 
observations. Gene
On 8/25/14 11:30 AM, jsfajans wrote:
> 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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