[Coral-List] Lionfish and African Dust

Douglas Fenner douglasfennertassi at gmail.com
Wed Feb 12 01:13:16 EST 2014


Good points in your message below, I agree with all of it.  The eddies spun
off by the Gulf stream can be called warm rings and are well known.
Whirling around, they can move larvae in any and all directions, including
the opposite direction to the normal flow.  There are a variety of other
eddies as well.
    I personally have no quarrel with anyone concluding that Aspergillus is
carried in the African dust, that it is terrestrial, and even that the
species that causes sea fan disease is carried in the dust and that is how
it got there.  But the evidence for that is very good, and for Diadema and
diseases of hard corals like white band and others, there is no hard
evidence that it came in the African dust that I know of, none.  The timing
and pattern is way off what would be predicted from African dust, and none
have been detected in the dust to my knowledge.  Which doesn't mean the
dust doesn't have a lot of other nasty things in it, clearly it does.  But
you can't explain everything with African dust.  Not Tubastraea spread, not
lionfish spread, not Diadema die off, not any of the hard coral diseases.
Which doesn't mean that someday someone won't find some real evidence to
indicate that some hard coral disease might have been transported by
African dust.  Someday that evidence may be found, or it may not.  But so
far it hasn't to my knowledge.  Mind you, I don't study this and haven't
followed the details in all the papers on African dust.

Cheers,  Doug

On Tue, Feb 11, 2014 at 12:02 PM, Thomas Goreau <goreau at bestweb.net> wrote:
Dear Gene and Doug,

Your back and forth volley on the coral list perhaps needs to bear in mind
that each different disease has a different pathogen, with different modes
of transmission, different environmental susceptibilities, etc., so each is
a unique case and we can't extrapolate from one disease to another at all!

Also it is important to bear in mind not only the mean circulation pattern,
but the extremes, which is when all the real action happens, including two
inch grasshoppers.

Some years ago I concluded that a major part of the coral recruitment in
the northeastern Caribbean, places like St. Martin, Antigua, Barbuda, and
the Grenadines, came from larvae carried by a freak event, the backward
hurricane. This exceptional hurricane formed near Curacao, and smashed
through Bonaire the day before I arrived there for coral disease studies
with James Cervino. All along the protected leeward west coast, where all
the  diving takes place, the waves had come over the tops of the cliffs,
destroyed the boats, the docks, and shore side infrastructure, and the
water was still roiling with waves and turbidity, it was unsafe to dive and
impossible to reach the water, so we dived from shore on the east side of
the island, which was calm but where it is normally impossible to dive
because of the waves. This freak reverse hurricane blew in the opposite
direction to any other and moved Northeast and across the Lesser Antilles,
where it did a lot more damage. It reversed the direction of water
circulation across the entire region and I suspect it also carried with it
larvae of corals from the central Caribbean that normally would have
survived that distance due the direction of the currents.

Also bear in mind the importance of backward eddies. They do take place
everywhere. You can see this very clearly on that spectacular time series
map link somebody sent. Lionfish were first released in SE Florida and from
there were carried northward by the Gulf Stream. An eddy in the Gulf Stream
then carried them to the Bahamas where they spread from north to south. I
was in Turks and Caicos before and after they suddenly appeared, just as
the map shows. That was linked to rapid transport throughout the Caribbean.
There is no doubt that it's first appearance was well noted, this is a fish
that any fisherman would notice immediately because it was so bizarrely
unlike anything they had ever seen.

Best wishes,

*Thomas J. Goreau, PhDPresident, Global Coral Reef AlliancePresident,
Biorock Technology Inc.*
*Coordinator, Soil Carbon Alliance*
*Coordinator, United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development
Small Island Developing States Partnership in New Sustainable Technologies*

*37 Pleasant Street, Cambridge, MA 02139 goreau at bestweb.net
<goreau at bestweb.net>www.globalcoral.org <http://www.globalcoral.org>Skype:
tomgoreauTel: (1) 617-864-4226 <%281%29%20617-864-4226> *

*No one can change the past, everyone can change the future*

On Tue, Feb 11, 2014 at 7:32 AM, Eugene Shinn <eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>wrote:

>       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
> team.
> "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
> 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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Douglas Fenner
Contractor with Ocean Associates, Inc.
PO Box 7390
Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799  USA

phone 1 684 622-7084

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