[Coral-List] reassessing coral reefs

Tim tim at atolleditions.com.au
Mon Apr 13 15:48:26 EDT 2015

Thanks Eugene for highlighting the report in the Australian newspaper and to the other comments about the article with sources.
From my perspective, mitigation against climate change is as much about scientists pointing out perceived reporting bias, and correcting errors of fact, as it is about say, studying trends in coral growth, or building resilience of coral reefs.
Investors considering a large scale infrastructure development in the Maldives (or elsewhere) should be aware it is not only sea level rise that may cause the Maldives to go under, or rather the RATE of sea level rise, but other factors requiring mitigation against climate change. Protecting the reefs should be a priority in their management decision making in a delicate reef ecosystem, but is not always the case.
Dredging. ........sedimentation, nutrients, disease.
Since 2007, there have been 34 new resort developments (currently a total 106 resorts, 15 hotels), 107 guest houses, and many major resort upgrades, as well as harbor, airport, and other island infrastructure developments around the Maldives. (Atlas of the Maldives, 2007, Atoll Editions, and http://planning.gov.mv/en/content/view/318/93/ , although the latest map needs updating) with many more planned. Dredging plays a major role in many of these developments and conversations with the operators and personal observation tells me little, if any attention, is being given to minimizing the impacts to protect reefs and sensitive lagoon nursery areas. Nor am I aware of any effective monitoring being done.
There is now considerable extra pressure on reef fin fisheries brought about in part, by the existing live reef fish export trade, combined with a shift in fishing effort from the previous shark fishery to the reef fin fisheries, an increase in consumption of the combined Maldivian and Foreigner population,
http://www.planning.gov.mv/census/census%202014/CensusPreliminary/PreliminaryResult-04Mar2015.pdf ,
and an in increase in the number of tourist arrivals. The demographics are changing too, (40% Chinese February, 2015).
There have been some positive developments though, (total shark ban 2010 and rays 2013, 5 grouper special protected areas 2014), on top of the already existing 27 MPA’s.
Although there have been COTS outbreaks in the past, a current outbreak – centred around the central north west, west, and south west of North Male’ Atoll  – has gained momentum over the past 6 months. There have also been reports of increasing COTS numbers in South Male Atoll and also in the far north at Haa Alifu Atoll, and possibly elsewhere. Some reefs and resort housereefs have been devastated.
I point out these facts because collectively, based on my reading and common sense, they will make our reefs more vulnerable if we have another major bleaching event. Uninformed or incorrect comments about sea level rise and mitigation with reference to the Maldives made by the head of major news corporation who sets standards and policies for their companies newspapers will inevitably, rightly or wrongly, lead to allegations of bias against their paper’s writers. Hence the dirty water…..

Tim Godfrey
Atoll Editions Maldives
H. Asfaam, Bodufungadu Magu
Male, Rep of Maldives.
Maldives: +960 7676423

On 11 Apr 2015, at 00:06, Douglas Fenner wrote:

>   Good post, I generally agree.  I didn't see obvious bias in the article
> that was written in The Australian.  I also agree that for us, the
> important article is the Cooper article in Science.  However, I think we
> should hold newspaper articles to high standards as well.  I didn't have
> problems with this one, but I often do with others, often with relatively
> trivial parts of the articles, which I think are factually wrong.  I think
> people have a right to be critical about newspapers as well, and it is well
> known that Rupert Murdock pushes his own viewpoint in his many newspapers
> in Australia, the US, and the UK, and his Fox TV network in the states, and
> that one of his newspapers got in serious trouble in the UK a few years ago
> for ethical problems and legal violations.  However, this article in The
> Australian did not appear to me to be obviously biased, and the behavior of
> the newspaper in general does not tarnish this article in The Australian,
> let alone the Cooper article in Science.  The fact that we decided that
> climate change issues are a legitimate discussion point on coral-list means
> to me that the question of bias on that topic in Murdock's media is open
> for debate on coral-list.  My interest was in the scientific issues, in
> response to Gene's post, and I'm in agreement with him on those issues, I
> think, though I have gone more out of my way to point out the limitations
> to the growth enhancement at high temperatures, and that the fastest growth
> does not necessarily mean healthy coral.
>     I tend to think that the discussion Gene started has been good.
> Cheers,  Doug
> On Thu, Apr 9, 2015 at 3:28 AM, Eugene Shinn <eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>
> wrote:
>> Guess I stirred up a lot of muddy water with the report on coral growth
>> in the Australian newspaper. I thank Dough Fenner for pointing out that
>> the report is on a 2012 paper published in Science.I missed that however
>> I do remember reading the original paper. I think the take home message
>> is that in areas where the water is usually quite cool it is logical for
>> coral growth to increase when the water warms. Think “just right” as in
>> the Goldilocks story.And yes Porities is a fairly tough coral.While with
>> USGS we cored large Porities heads that survived near Atomic bomb tests
>> at Eniwetok atoll. Based on analysis of annual growth rings we found
>> that several smaller heads began growing on the edge of a bomb crater
>> within a year of the event.
>> The photo of the diver coring the head coral appalled Dennis Hubbard as
>> it did me. The photo showed all the divers equipment as well as the
>> diver resting on the coral head. In the past we cored over a hundred
>> head corals and never touched them except with the drill bit.
>> It was interesting that one reader took the “kill the messenger”
>> approach taking the newspaper to task because it is a Rupert Murdock
>> product. Is that the way we do science? Read the article in Science and
>> evaluate that.
>> Earlier comments about the hypocrisy of coral scientists using air
>> travel to study distant coral reefs, reminded me of a recent gathering
>> of climate activists in Switzerland. They came from far and wide in
>> approximately 700 different private jets. Yes it was reported on Fox
>> news. What other network would have reported it?Hypocrisy is all around
>> us. It shows up when we attack the messenger instead of the message. 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."
> 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-and-public-attitudes-what-we-re-learning-and-why-it-matters?utm_campaign=email-news-latest&utm_src=email
> Homeopathy ineffective, study confirms.
> http://news.sciencemag.org/sifter/2015/03/homeopathy-ineffective-study-confirms
> website:  http://independent.academia.edu/DouglasFenner
> blog: http://ocean.si.edu/blog/reefs-american-samoa-story-hope
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