[Coral-List] Coral killing continues in Florida

Ian Zink izink at rsmas.miami.edu
Fri Sep 11 11:02:45 EDT 2015

Dr. Shinn,
     While it is easy to dismiss alarmist calls to action, I find that 
your arguments grossly under represent the conditions both IN Government 
Cut, and in the outer stretches of the offshore shipping channel leading 
into Government Cut (which is ALSO has been dredged to accommodate the 
entry of PAMEX ships into the Port - see below aerial footage).  Also, 
the sedimentation issues are not related solely to active dredging, but 
also 'leaky' transport of dredged substrate to offshore disposal areas, 
thus impacting marine life along this route.

Your comments of 'only weedy species' are erroneous - I do not pretend 
to be a coral expert, but the videos below show that larger, massive 
type species are also being impacted.  Also, you mention that divers 
recorded sediment on already dead corals.  Why of course we cannot go 
back and 'prove' that smothered areas were once living, but much 
evidence in the video could easily lead us to this conclusion.  The 
exterior extent of living tissue remaining on those 'smothered' corals 
matches the extent of sediment covering rest of the skeletal remains.  
Again, see videos below.

I forget the exact numbers off the top of my head, but there are US 
Endangered Species Act corals being directly impacted by the USACOE and 
related contractors, apparently due to shoddy documentation of the 
abundance and occurrence of A. palmata and/or A. cervicornis individuals 
within the 'impact areas.'  Contacting those more directly related to 
investigating these issues (see below videos) could provide the proper 
federal and state documentation of these concerns.

The original coral survey, conducted by Dial Cordy and associates, only 
found 31 A. cervicornis colonies to be 'impacted:'

However later findings revealed that ~10x the number of A. cervicornis 
were in the area (i.e., DIRECTLY impacted by dredging):

This news article highlights some more shoddy execution of the work:

These are all video evidence of recent conditions. NOT 'contestable 
language.' While we wait for the 'reviews' and 'reports' the damage 
continues.  Perhaps the only contestable language here is 'a year from 
now the area in question will likely look no different than nearby areas 
not touched by this dredging.'  I doubt the 'weedy' species depicted in 
the videos will make that fast of a recruitment, and subsequent recovery.

Please look past the inaccuracies that often occur with translation of 
science to news, but the pictures tell a thousand words:

Some visual examples of species being impacted:


Aerial view of the sedimentation/siltation from the dredge work:

On 9/10/2015 1:07 PM, Eugene Shinn wrote:
> Sarah, Your rant re, "killing hundreds of acres of endangered
> corals"---- the Corps of Engineers, "bulldozing crusade," "Port of Miami
> disaster," and "nightmare" may be a little over stated. That kind of
> language may create some excitement with some but is not likely to get
> you anywhere with the agencies involved. Good scientists should not rant
> that way or misidentify Golith Grouper poop for reproductive fluid as
> you did on the list last year. Did you apologize to readers for that
> mistake?
> My former office on Fisher Island overlooked the dredging area in
> question for 15 years. I know it well and although there were some
> corals there it is a stretch to consider it a coral reef. That limestone
> area had been essentially devoid of reef-building corals for millennia.
> The few corals that were there were only the hardiest, weediest species.
> In fact we could not grow corals in the water from government cut that
> we collected there at high tide for experiments. Admittedly, that was
> before the Virginia Key sewage outfall was moved further offshore. I am
> aware that a large amount of money was spent moving corals and on
> monitoring the effects of the dredging spoil on the few live corals
> found there today (coral cover off Miami-Dade County is routinely
> measured at a half percent or less by SECREMP). Some divers have
> photographed sediment accumulations on corals near the dredge area but
> were not aware the sediment was on corals already dead. The greatest
> threat was the regional 2014 bleaching event followed by regional white
> plague disease that ranged from Monroe to Palm Beach County well outside
> the dredging area (and is still ongoing). The scientists doing the work
> of course cannot discuss the results of the required monitoring studies
> at the present time because of ongoing lawsuits. I suspect that at
> sometime in the future many interesting publications and reports will
> become available for more critical review. I can appreciate the feeling
> of the many who have seen the unavoidable plumes that result from any
> dredging but it is something that none of us can stop. The danger is
> that strong contestable language now may backfire and create deleterious
> effects on the credibility of coral scientists in the future. A year
> from now the area in question will likely look no different than nearby
> areas not touched by this dredging.Gene

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