[Coral-List] Reassessing Coral Reefs

Julian @ Reef Check julian at reefcheck.org.my
Thu Apr 9 06:21:25 EDT 2015

You guys are getting depressing:)

Look at the list again: how many of the top 10 can any individual impact? Answer: none. When I try to explain threats to reefs to people, I try to break them into external threats - climate change, etc., that we can't do anything about as local managers, and the local threats - diver damage, trash, sewage, etc., that we CAN do something about as managers...working with the dive industry.

I do get it: diver damage affects a small amount of reefs worldwide. But it affects valuable "revenue reefs" that dive centres rely on.

Surely, it should be in the interests of the dive industry to do what they can to save those nice bits of reef for their customers. And in doing so, is there a slight chance that we may be able to persuade some of those interested, informed and motivated divers to stay at resorts with proper sewage treatment? Oh, and good waste management practices? And with snorkelling guides that don't feed fish?  And is there the slightest chance some of that might spill over into the rest of their lives? Call me naive and idealistic.

Anyone from PADI reading this? Can you spell "dive centre adopt a reef" programme?

This is why I think mobilising the dive industry to do something to save "revenue reefs" could have wider impacts. And maybe involve some of those same people in monitoring and helping to gather the data everyone keeps telling me we don't have. To try to bring it back to coral list interests...


Julian Hyde
General Manager
Reef Check Malaysia
03 2161 5948
Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rcmalaysia


"The bottom line of the Millenium Assessment findings is that human actions are depleting Earth's natural capital, putting such strain on the environment that the ability of the planet's ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted."

-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Alex Brylske
Sent: Sunday, 5 April, 2015 12:47 AM
To: Mussman Steve
Cc: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Reassessing Coral Reefs


The reason for this in the diving community is really no different than in society at large. For example, how many patients question their doctor when he tells them they should stop smoking, exercise and eat a healthy diet? Virtually none because there s no large commercial interest that has anything to loose by this advice. (Big tobacco gave up years ago.) We now have the same scientific confidence about climate change as for any public health policy involving CVD. However, climate change flies directly against the interests of many big-time commercial interests, so like tobacco once did they have done all they can to muddy the water. 

As you know as a dive center owner, there are lots of red meat tea baggers in high levels of our industry. So do the math. It may be different outside the US and I hope it is but I don t believe we ll ever see any real levelship from the dive community on the climate change issue. If one does develop, it will come from the bottom-up, not top-down (couldn t resist the coral reef reference).


> On Apr 3, 2015, at 5:49 PM, Steve Mussman <sealab at earthlink.net> wrote:
> Doug is right on point as usual. The only thing that I might add is that it is very curious that the dive industry is science-oriented on so many of its principle teachings and beliefs. We embrace physics (pressure and depth , squeezes and the bends), chemistry, (nitrogen absorption, oxygen toxicity, Nitrox and Trimix) and even touch on marine biology. But when it comes to climate change, warming oceans and acidification there is suddenly a rejection of the prevailing scientific thought and assumptions. Hmm, I wonder what could possibly explain this peculiar inconsistency? 
> Steve
> Sent from my iPhone
>> On Apr 3, 2015, at 4:59 PM, Douglas Fenner <douglasfennertassi at gmail.com> wrote:
>>    My memory is that Steve has been concerned for some time that the dive industry has done nothing to support action on climate change.  They seem to show no interest.  Steve's interest in climate change is because it is the 800 pound gorilla in the corner.  If we don't do something about that, the reefs will be damaged far more from that than anything else.  I agree.
>>    I think we've gotten off the topic.  But it does reflect what divers think.  When they think of damage to the reef, they think, "divers damage the reefs."  Most divers know that at one time or another, they've kicked a coral or grabbed hold of something, and many of us have seen anchor damage, and/or too many dive boats tied up to a float.  Working on reducing diver impact does help the places where lots of divers dive.
>>    However, this misses the big picture.  What are the major threats to coral reef in the future?  Sorry, but diver damage isn't even on the list of the top 14 threats NOAA reviewed threats to corals in its "Status Review Report" as a basis for making its decision on whether corals were endangered.  They came up with a ranking similar to that done in the "Reefs at Risk" project.  The 19 risks they evaluated and their evaluation of the level of risk are as follows:
>> 1. Ocean warming
>> 2. Coral disease
>> 3. Ocean acidification
>> 4. reef fishing-trophic effects
>> 5. sedimentation
>> 6. nutrients
>> 7. sea level rise
>> 8. toxins
>> 9. changing ocean circulation
>> 10. changing storm track/intensities
>> 11. predation  (think crown-of-thorns starfish and Drupella snails) 
>> 12. reef fishin- habitat impacts/destructive fishing 13. ornamental 
>> trade 14. natural physical damage (think storms like hurricanes, and 
>> tsunamis) 15. human-induced physical damage 16. aquatic invasive 
>> species 17. salinity 18. African/Asian dust 19. changes in insolation
>> Diver and snorkeler damage are included in number 15, along with coastal construction and ship groundings.  They don't say what proportion of human-induced physical damage they think diver damage is, but it appears to me that if it was by itself, it might not rank in the top 19.
>>    We can argue about the rankings, but I think the message is clear, reducing diver damage is helpful to the reefs that are heavily dived, and so to dive operations.  But divers dive on a tiny tiny fraction of the world's reefs, and compared to many other things, is a very minor, even negligible effect effect on the world's coral reefs.
>>     Net effect is, working on reducing diver damage is re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.  Reducing diver damage is good, but it is a drop in the bucket.  If we don't solve the big problems, reducing diver damage will not save reefs, in fact they will die anyhow.  Bleaching alone killed about 16% of the world's reefs in 1998.
>>     I think we're back to where Steve and I started at the beginning of his concerns, many months ago.  The dive industry needs to speak up saying that humans need to switch to renewable energy sources, as well as advocate for tackling the main local threats: sedimentation, nutrients,overfishing, and disease.  Mind you, we have little idea of how to tackle disease, except to reduce stresses on corals, including the high temperature events that often lead to disease events.  But no one ever said it would be easy.
>>     But apathy seems to reign supreme in the dive industry, and the few that are concerned are focusing on one of the most minor threats: diver damage.  Well worth doing for the high-value reefs divers dive on.  But won't do a thing to stop the decline of the world's reefs, sad to say.  Unless, somehow, instilling a conservation ethic in divers can be used to lead to a desire to get out political leaders to tackle the big issues that really will make a difference.  Maybe that's our best hope???
>>> On Fri, Apr 3, 2015 at 2:44 AM, Steve Mussman <sealab at earthlink.net> wrote:
>>> Hi John,
>>>  Your experience in Curacao mirrors many that I have had with 
>>> students throughout the years. Come to think of it, many of us may 
>>> have misjudged conditions on the reefs ourselves when we first 
>>> started diving. Its likely that Gene Shinn could have schooled me on 
>>> issues in the Florida Keys during my first dives there in the early 
>>> 1970's. Without a firmly established baseline, who would know? That 
>>> is why it is so critical that we find more effective ways to get the 
>>> message across. I don't believe that it has to be all gloom and 
>>> doom. If done right, it could actually stimulate interest among 
>>> divers in the future of coral reefs around the world. William 
>>> Alevizon's suggestion is another call for self circumspection. I 
>>> know that as an underwater photographer I have taken liberties with 
>>> marine life that are unacceptable. I can't change that, but I can 
>>> set a better example going forward and encourage others to do so as 
>>> well. Admittedly, its still hard for me to resist making gentle
>  co
>>> ntact from time to time, but I am trying to reform. As for feeding, I've always been opposed and now the shark feeding craze has captivated the diving industry which sees it as a way of adding a much needed extreme edge to the "sport". In fact, there have been a number of scientific papers that seem to encourage the practice. It is clear that it won't be easy to gain universal consensus on a set of acceptable diving standards, but we must try hard to get the point across that coral reefs and marine life in general are in a critical phase which is very much dependent on human behavior and interventions. I hope that there is both the time and inclination to get this right.
>>> Steve
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>> From: John Ware <jware at erols.com>
>>>> Sent: Apr 2, 2015 11:41 AM
>>>> To: "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov" 
>>>> <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
>>>> Subject: [Coral-List] Fwd: Re:  Reassessing Coral Reefs
>>>> -------- Forwarded Message --------
>>>> Subject:       Re: [Coral-List] Reassessing Coral Reefs
>>>> Date:  Thu, 02 Apr 2015 08:41:13 -0700
>>>> From:  John Ware <jware at erols.com>
>>>> To:    Peter Sale <sale at uwindsor.ca>
>>>> Hi List,
>>>> As an anecdotal addition to Peter's comments:
>>>> Some time ago my wife and I visited Curacao for a dive vacation. 
>>>> She came up from the first dive and expressed my feelings very 
>>>> well: "It was like diving over a graveyard."  All dead coral and few fish.
>>>> However, the younger (20s, 30s) folks on the boat, with only a 
>>>> short-term view, were commenting about how beautiful the reefs and 
>>>> fish were.
>>>> Depends on your perspective.
>>>> John
>>>> On 4/1/2015 11:01 AM, Peter Sale wrote:
>>>>> Hi listers,
>>>>> The issue of sport divers not knowing the difference between a 
>>>>> living, healthy reef and a dead reef is real, and a sad commentary on our times.
>>>>> The main reason Alena Szmant and I put together the booklet, Reef 
>>>>> Reminiscences, in 2012, was because I realized that large numbers 
>>>>> of younger reef researchers and managers had never seen a healthy 
>>>>> reef.  In it, 12 older researchers reminisce about reefs they 
>>>>> worked on when they were young.
>>>>> Perhaps the dive industry could also make use of it.  Its 
>>>>> available for download at 
>>>>> http://www.petersalebooks.com/?page_id=1428
>>>>> Its even free.  And it even has the story of Jack Randall's first wetsuit.
>>>>> Peter Sale
>>>>> sale at uwindsor.ca                 @PeterSale3
>>>>> www.uwindsor.ca/sale           www.petersalebooks.com
>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>> Coral-List mailing list
>>>>> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>>>>> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
>>>> --
>>>>    *************************************************************
>>>>    *                                                           *
>>>>    *                      John R. Ware, PhD                    *
>>>>    *                         President                         *
>>>>    *                      SeaServices, LLC                     *
>>>>    *                     302 N. Mule Deer Pt.                  *
>>>>    *                    Payson, AZ 85541, USA                  *
>>>>    *                       928 478-6358                        *
>>>>    *                      jware at erols.com                      *
>>>>    *                 http://www.seaservices.org *
>>>>    *                                                           *
>>>>    *                   Member of the Council:                  *
>>>>    *            International Society for Reef Studies         *
>>>>    *                                          _                *
>>>>    *                                         |                 *
>>>>    *   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~|~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ *
>>>>    *                                        _|_                *
>>>>    *                                       | _ |               *
>>>>    *        _______________________________|   |________       *
>>>>    *     |\/__       Untainted by Technology            \      *
>>>>    *     |/\____________________________________________/      *
>>>>    *************************************************************
>>>> If you are a coral-reef scientist and you are not a member of the 
>>>> International Society for Reef Studies, then shame on you.
>>>> Become a member of the International Society for Reef Studies 
>>>> http://www.coralreefs.org
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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."
>> Politics, science, and public attitudes: What we're learning, and why it matters.  Science Insider, open access.
>> http://news.sciencemag.org/social-sciences/2015/02/politics-science-a
>> nd-public-attitudes-what-we-re-learning-and-why-it-matters?utm_campai
>> gn=email-news-latest&utm_src=email
>> Homeopathy ineffective, study confirms.
>> http://news.sciencemag.org/sifter/2015/03/homeopathy-ineffective-stud
>> y-confirms
>> website:  http://independent.academia.edu/DouglasFenner
>> blog: http://ocean.si.edu/blog/reefs-american-samoa-story-hope
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