[Coral-List] Why we are failing to repair coral reefs

Douglas Fenner douglasfennertassi at gmail.com
Thu Nov 6 15:11:27 EST 2014

Tire reefs were popular at one time in the Philippines.  I've dove on a
few, though that was over 15 years ago.  If I remember, a couple of tires
on edge would be set in cement, and leaning together in an A shape.  The
ones I dove on had lots of coral growing directly on the tires.  No signs
of toxicity that I could see.  High diversity of corals on them.  I'm not
saying that tires don't have toxics in them or that tire dust from roads
doesn't release toxics, I'm just reporting that there were lots of healthy
looking corals growing on tires there at that time.  Corals are sometimes
said to go directly from looking healthy to being dead, making detecting
stress very hard.  However, bleaching and partial mortality are certainly
visible signs of stress.  I don't remember seeing any bleaching or partial
mortality, but that was a long time ago and I wasn't looking for that.  I
have no clue why corals grow on tires in the Philippines, but not in
Florida, but there surely is a reason.
     I would agree with Gene that this could be a good topic for study.
Tires that aren't well weighted down can get thrown around by storms like
hurricanes and do a lot of damage to corals.  Powerful hurricanes can rip
up just about anything, including large reef structures like buttresses.  I
vaguely remember a paper, perhaps by Stoddard, documenting a hurricane that
hit Belize long ago, and not only destroyed the corals in one area, but
also the buttresses, the very reef structure.

Cheers,  Doug

On Thu, Nov 6, 2014 at 5:03 AM, Eugene Shinn <eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>

> With all the concerns about saving coral reefs I was surprised no one
> picked up on the thread of Martin Moe's recent posting concerning tire
> rubber. Using old tires for artificial reefs blossomed in the early
> 1970s but their use quickly subsided when various chemicals in the
> artificial rubber were found to be toxic. NOAA supported experimentation
> with tires as reefs. Their FLAIR project consisted of dozens of tires
> bound together and placed in about 25 ft of water in what was then
> Biscayne National Monument. At the end of the project I observed and
> filmed the collection of tropical fish it had harbored. What was most
> noticeable was that although small fish hid in the tires little if
> anything grew on the rubber it self. In time it became apparent toxic
> components leaching from the tires prevents encrustation by marine
> organisms. Tire reefs soon when out of favor. Clearly tire rubber was
> not good for the reef environment so it is no wonder that the black
> rubber powder produced by the abrasion of tire tread (as pointed out by
> Martin) has the potential to be highly toxic. As he pointed out, rain
> flushes the chemical mix into surrounding waters. This is increasingly
> likely in the Florida Keys for three reasons:
> 1.) There is only one main highway connecting the keys. Highway US1 is
> close to the water on most of the keys. Bridges of course pass over the
> water.
> 2) The chemicals in the rubber powder if not going directly into
> surrounding water, enters the porous limestone and ground water. Even
> where there are storm drains the water ultimately drains into the saline
> groundwater, which in most cases is anoxic, contains ammonia and
> hydrogen sulfide. This all makes for a potentially toxic mix that is no
> more than a foot or two below the surface over about 75 percent of the
> Keys. That's right, 75 percent of the Florida Keys surface area is only
> one meter or less above present sea level. In all cases due to tidal
> pumping and higher Gulf side sea level net movement of ground water is
> toward the Atlantic. Movement through the limestone amounts to roughly
> 2-meters per day!
> 3) Auto and boat trailer traffic on that single asphalt artery is
> bumper-to-bumper during much of the year and increasing each year. Multi
> wheel tractor-trailers deliver goods to Key West throughout the night
> when auto traffic subsides. Clearly a lot of rubber powder is being
> produced and flushed into the surrounding sea or ground water that in
> turn flushes into near shore Atlantic waters. It is little wonder that
> Martin Moe has such difficulty rearing sensitive urchin eggs and larvae
> in seawater collected near his laboratory. Meanwhile people keep
> flooding into the Florida Keys and loving 'em to death. Determining
> toxicity and amount looks like a good study for some one to attempt.  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

"belief in climate change is optional, participation is not."

belief in evolution is optional, use of antibiotics that bacteria have not
evolved resistance to is recommended.

website:  http://independent.academia.edu/DouglasFenner

blog: http://ocean.si.edu/blog/reefs-american-samoa-story-hope

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