[Coral-List] Lionfish and African Dust

Eugene Shinn eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu
Tue Feb 11 13:32:14 EST 2014

      First it should be made clear that our African dust team of 
microbiologists never found /Aspergillus sydowii/. Garriet Smith and his 
team at U. OF SOUTH CAROLINA made that discovery.See Weir-Brush, et. 
al., (2004) listed in the segment posted by Fenner. As co authors 
neither Garrison nor myself did the actual microbiology.

Most of the other references in the segment posted by Fenner were from 
my USGS dust research group. The Rypien (2008) and Kurtz et al (2001) 
papers, however, were not part of our group. I recall that a member of 
our group provided the 4 small dust samples examined by the Rypien.

Further be advised that the segment posted by Fenner was from a closed 
meeting of scientists put together to support listing of Acroporid 
corals in the Atlantic. Based on the Florida Sunshine law I asked to 
attend but the group's legal advisor excluded me from attending a 
federally organized group. Their decision to list Acroporid corals as 
mandated in a Center for Biodiversity lawsuit came as no surprise even 
though there was no hard evidence for what was causing the demise of 
Acroporids at that time. I had earlier argued in a published paper that 
listing was not justified if we did not know what to protect them from. 
Clearly the group knew they could not protect them from African dust.

Below is an opinion about the Rypien paper by a microbiologist from our 

"In the Rypien paper they took 4 small volume air samples and not 
finding A.sydowii concluded that thus it may not be found in African 
dust......a weaker conclusion I've never seen.....that a panel of 
experts would rely on that to conclude that dust really isn't a threat 
or the vector is beyond me........when we collect samples they are 
usually about 200L....what minuscule fraction of any given dust cloud 
volume is that?....so it doesn't surprise me that we didn't see it in 
any of our early dust samples..........a fundamentally flawed NOAA 
expert panel conclusion...."

Near the end of the Rypien paper there is this statement: "A lack of 
Aspergillus sydowii in dust samples from both Africa and the Caribbean 
in this study makes it tempting to conclude that African dust is not a 
viable source of this coral pathogen. However, given the large spatial 
and temporal variation in fungal diversity and abundance, I cannot 
conclusively rule out the African Dust hypothesis, or the possibility 
that A. sydowii was present in dust from earlier years."

I can only conclude that it remains to be proven that something in 
African dust did not strongly affect coral reefs and specifically the 
seafan disease issue. On the other hand one must ask can 4 samples from 
dust clouds often the size of Spain possibly identify everything 
present? The reader can find much more on this subject and the attitudes 
of various government agencies by Googling "Bootstrap Geologist" 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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