[Coral-List] Reassessing Coral Reefs

Sarah Frias-Torres sfrias_torres at hotmail.com
Fri Mar 27 01:44:14 EDT 2015

Peter, Steve and all,here are my five cents.
Coral reefs are in triage. Their status resembles a crash victim. If this crash victim receives immediate care, the victim may survive.
We have already decided, as the Coral-list community, that coral reefs deserve our immediate care for many reasons (and if anyone in coral-list thinks we should label them as goners and give them morphine, this is the time to say it).
What to do first?we apply ABC's of emergency first aid: Airway, Breathing and Circulation. The ABC's are pollution, overfishing, habitat destruction (dynamite fishing, siltation from construction or beach renourishment, anchor damage, etc).
Once first aid is applied, then we have to treat the crash victim. Sometimes we might need to heal broken bones.  We can choose to let the broken bone untreated, then it will take a very long time for it to heal properly or we might speed up the process by taking active measures, such as placing a metal rod and a cast. In our coral reefs, this will be the objective of large scale restoration. Sometimes the bruises will heal on their own. That's when conservation alone (without restoration) helps the coral reef.
As a result of the crash, our victim might face systemic failure due to the long term effects generated by the injuries (think brain haemorrhage),  If left untreated, the patient will die, regardless of our ABC's and our bone healing. The systemic failure is two fold: 1) global warming, that if left untreated, will doom coral reefs by 2050 (that's just 35 years!), 2) human overpopulation and overuse of the planet's resources. 
Once we have our priorities straight, it's time to take action. How we go about it? Here, I'm the mouse asking who will bell the cat (here's the short story in case you forgot http://shortstoriesshort.com/story/who-will-bell-the-cat/)
Some of us in Coral-List know how to work the ABC's. Some of us know about dealing with systemic failure. We have to do our best, and we have to do it quick. And we need to unite our efforts in some way. Do we rely on an existing organization to coordinate our efforts, perhaps ICRI= International Coral Reef Initiative? Or do we all join together in some new way? 
Regardless how we decide about doing our best, we don't want to let the patient die in agony during our watch.

Sarah Frias-Torres, Ph.D. Coordinator Reef Rescuers ProgramIsland Conservation Centre Nature Seychelles,Amitie, Praslin, Seychelleshttp://www.natureseychelles.org/what-we-do/coral-reef-restoration-and-Research CollaboratorSmithsonian-National Museum of Natural Historyat Smithsonian Marine Station, Fort Pierce, FL, USATwitter: @GrouperDocBlog: http://grouperluna.wordpress.comhttp://independent.academia.edu/SarahFriasTorres

> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov; sealab at earthlink.net
> From: sale at uwindsor.ca
> Date: Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:42:39 -0400
> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Reassessing Coral Reefs
> Hi Steve, and list,
> I fear we may be going over old ground here.
> Given that Florida is now banning use of certain words (like 'climate 
> change') in a 1984-ish attempt to deny climate change, your concern may be 
> justified.  (Florida has so far not gone the route of North Carolina of 
> legislating sea level rise out of existence -- would that the solutions 
> were so simple!)
> I do not think there has been any substantive change among reef 
> scientists.  We vary in how starkly we see the consequences of continued 
> inaction on climate -- some, like me, believing that coral reefs (i.e.. 
> reefs with a substantial veneer of living corals that add CaCO3 as they 
> grow) will have largely gone by mid-century if we continue our present 
> inactivity, while others holding out hope that some will somehow adapt and 
> survive.  But I think we all agree on what is required:
> Most reefs near people can benefit from increased vigilance and clean-up 
> action to correct over-fishing, pollution, and inappropriate coastal 
> development that impacts reefs with burial or siltation.  Taking action on 
> any of these fronts helps the situation if, as is likely, relief of one 
> source of stress helps organisms cope with other sources still present. 
> (I'd include action on coral disease, if I knew of any that are out there 
> that can help.)
> Taking action on all these fronts should buy time for coral reefs, but if 
> we do not eventually take real action to stem CO2 emissions the reefs will 
> be eliminated by a combination of warming and acidification, whether or 
> not we have completely eliminated over-fishing, pollution and 
> inappropriate development.  People might even listen to dive industry 
> spokespeople who argue for action to save coral reefs.  Go for it.
> And with respect to disease and perhaps to warming, I am aware that there 
> are efforts by some groups to cultivate corals and use breeding programs 
> to create organisms that can better cope with the environment that seems 
> to be coming.  I just think that at present, these efforts have yet to 
> prove successful, and many of the 'reef restoration' programs out there 
> are small-scale, short-term, paper-over responses to the problem.  These 
> can be useful when the small-scale short-term effort is right in front of 
> a tourism enterprise -- its sort of like planting a nice garden at the 
> hotel entrance.  But that is a short-term band-aid to maintain cash-flow, 
> rather than a 'technological solution' to the issue of CO2 impacts on 
> coral reefs.
> Peter Sale
> sale at uwindsor.ca                 @PeterSale3
> www.uwindsor.ca/sale           www.petersalebooks.com
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