[Coral-List] Fwd: interesting thoughts from Tom Goreau

Greg Challenger GChallenger at polarisappliedsciences.com
Mon Sep 21 11:21:26 EDT 2015

> Tom.  I'd be happy to discuss my points but you need to re-read my post.  I never said anything about allowing developers to break laws in order to avoid environmental impact assessment.  I have no idea where that came from but not from me.    I also never said the reason for decline is irrelevant, I said it is important to evaluate mitigation, it is just not the currency of mitigation.   A permittee needs to mitigate for what is present now........that is the law, not the position of a guy named Greg.  Carry on arguing with your straw man.   

Sent from my iPhone

> On Sep 21, 2015, at 5:21 AM, "Douglas Fenner" <douglasfennertassi at gmail.com> wrote:
> Tom Goreau posted the following on coralreef freeforall, and I thought it
> was relevant.  The comments by Tom are his own, I'm just passing them on.
> Cheers, Doug
> The coral list posted a second hand copy of my posting on coralreef-freefor
> all, which provoked some very interesting responses that I will respond to.
> These fell into three separate categories.
> 1) Greg Challenger says that people doing environmental impact assessments
> should only look at the condition *immediately* before the project they are
> assessing, and that it is irrelevant what the previous history of the site
> was. This means that a developer who has destroyed a reef before calling in
> an environmental assessment will be able to claim there was nothing there
> to damage! I have seen this particular trick done over and over again. If
> the responsibility of the Environmental Assessment is to say whatever the
> developer is paying for, and no more, Challenger is right. I would
> challenge him and argue that it is the scientific responsibility of any
> honest environmental assessment to take account of the full history of the
> site, and propose measures that ensure as close to a pristine ecosystem as
> possible.
> 2) Precht says that there NEVER were any reefs in SE Florida, and that I am
> simply lying in saying that there were. This exactly proves the point that
> Gil Voss made to me many times, that all of the people who studied the
> Florida Keys NEVER looked at the corals reefs of Dade, Broward, and Palm
> Beach Counties, and ALL of the published literature said that corals ended
> at Fowey Rocks simply because people did not go further north. Gil simply
> could not believe that the excellent reefs of SE Florida, which he had
> known all his life (1918-1989, his family were some of the earliest
> residents of Miami, and his father was a boat captain) had been almost
> entirely destroyed without any studies being made, and that those people
> who believe anything they see on paper, and reject all the knowledge of
> those with greater experience that was not published, would then claim that
> these reefs never existed! That is exactly what Precht has done, rejecting
> Voss´s very profound knowledge of these reefs as a ghostly fabrication! Don
> De Sylva, in his 1963 book The Systematics and Life History of the Great
> Barracuda, says that no one now remembers the once magnificent reefs that
> were in front of Miami Beach. Precht quotes Tom Burns as saying corals end
> at Fowey Rock, but I was Tom Burn´s thesis advisor, and his work was
> confined to the Keys with no work being done in SE Florida! I respect
> Gene´s long experience in the Keys, but he has not done much diving on the
> reefs of Dade and Broward. Although have dived for longer than Gene, and in
> perhaps 10 times more countries than he has, I claim no special knowledge
> of the Keys because I avoided diving there since there were lots of
> excellent researchers like Gene, Walt Jaap, Phil Dustan, and Jim Porter
> working there, and I focused on places where other people did not work. The
> incredible historical photos of Jerry Greenberg, who got his start with the
> advice of my grandfather and father, tell the entire story of the near
> total destruction of the Florida Keys reefs.
> 3) Brian Walker makes a very significant contribution that summarizes the
> current situation of the coral reefs of SE Florida, which he shows are very
> real indeed despite Precht´s claim of non-existence! But the full history
> of these reefs is not included in the mapping of the recent conditions, so
> those reefs that have vanished are not shown in these surveys.The story of
> how Broward reefs, which were completely unknown to the scientific
> community, but very well known to thousands of shore divers, came to be
> documented is as follows. In conjunction with the dredge spoil dumping of
> sand on beaches in SE Florida, which has been going on for nearly 5 decades
> with Miami Beach reefs being the first to be killed, Broward County
> commissioned a study of live coral cover in Broward waters by Nova
> University. This survey of hundreds of random sites, found an average of
> around 1.3% live coral cover, and no place much above that level.
> Incredibly, they entirely missed the best reefs of all, around 10
> kilometers of reef with 30-40% live coral cover, because that reef was in
> shallow water nearer the shore than they were willing to go from their
> boats! The shore divers, who all knew the reef, could not believe that the
> best reef, and that most vulnerable to being killed by sand dumping, had
> been ommitted from the definitive study of Broward coral. In 2001 Dan
> Clark, head of Cry of the Water, a local diver´s conservation group, asked
> me if I would look at his video, because every single scientific
> organization and government agency refused to look at it, they simply
> *knew* there
> was nothing there, and were unwilling to see for themselves. Frankly I did
> not expect much more than the 1-2% live coral cover reported by Nova, and
> as Walter Goldberg, a distinguished Professor of Marine Biology at Florida
> International University, who had dived in Broward all his life, had
> described to me in the early 1980s. I was blown away to see huge areas of
> staghorn coral and large ancient coral heads, many hundreds of years old,
> so I went down to see for myself. The result was the first study of these
> previously undocumented reefs, which you can see for yourself, with photos
> of the reefs and the history of the reef as described by the oldest shore
> divers (almost all lobster hunters) that we could find, at:
> http://www.globalcoral.org/reef-protection-in-broward-county-florida/
> and you can see Mike Greenberg´s (Jerry´s son) incredible zoomable image of
> the staghorn area at:
> http://www.newerastudios.com/CryOfTheStaghorn.html
> The only reason that reef survived between Port Everglades and Hillsboro
> Inlet was that this was the ONLY stretch of SE Florida where they had NOT
> dumped sand on the beach and killed and buried the nearshore coral reef,
> but amazingly enough there now and ongoing is a multi tens of millions of
> dollars plan to do just that this coming year that has been approved by
> every single Federal, State, and County agency with any jurisdiction over
> the marine environment!
> Over the last 15 years most of this coral cover has been lost for the
> reasons mentioned, but there is surprisingly high recruitment, and if
> pollution were brought under control, these reefs will migrate northward
> with global warming. RIGHT NOW they are heavily bleached due to high
> temperature, as are the Keys, (although no one seems to have admitted that
> yet) and if it does not cool immediately there will be significant
> mortality, made worse by the effects of dredging and sand dumping on
> beaches, and the proliferation of sewage algae and cyanobacteria due to
> high temperature, not to mention the diseases to follow. Saving them will
> require abating all the stresses caused by sediments, nutrients, and high
> temperature. And of course, admitting that they exist and were once much
> better than they are now.
> __._,_.___
> ------------------------------
> Posted by: Tom Goreau <goreau at gmail.com>
>> On Wed, Sep 16, 2015 at 3:33 PM, Lou Fisher <sifufisher at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Well said Brian. A voice of scientific reason at last.  Thanks for the
>> posting.
>> Lou Fisher
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov [mailto:
>> coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Brian Walker
>> Sent: Wednesday, September 16, 2015 10:32 AM
>> To: William Precht <william.precht at gmail.com>;
>> coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Fwd: interesting thoughts from Tom Goreau
>> Hi All,
>> There is no doubt that the reef tract and its communities change from the
>> Dry Tortugas through Southeast Florida, however it is not as cut and dry as
>> one might think from reading the old literature. Yes, Fowey was the most
>> northern constructional reef in the Keys with a crest of Acropora palmata
>> reaching the surface, but there is not a wall at Fowey Rocks. We should not
>> consider the old literature as infallible. They did not have many of the
>> tools and resources at their fingertips that we have today, especially with
>> regard to regional remote sensing and mapping data. It is more appropriate
>> to think of the changes along our coast as a gradient in larger sections..
>> Biscayne is different from Broward-Miami, which is different from South
>> Palm Beach and so on.
>> We are learning new things about our SE Florida coast all the time. I urge
>> whomever is interested in the communities and the changes along the Florida
>> Reef Tract to check out the reports and papers below that are now being
>> prepared for publication. Let the data speak for themselves.
>> Low coral cover, yes...low coral density, yes...lower coral richness,
>> yes...coral reef community, yes...many old important and sensitive reef
>> organisms, yes...high resource use, yes...high fishing pressure,
>> yes...impacted fish populations, yes...totally destroyed by man, no (not
>> yet)...
>> Although the baselines have probably declined over the past century,
>> proper management of this system is still imperative to its fate. We should
>> learn from past mistakes, even if it requires substantial changes in the
>> present procedures.
>> https://www.dropbox.com/s/x7gck1y3gh5m3s4/KLUG_Thesis_FinalDraft.pdf?dl=0
>> https://www.dropbox.com/s/dooyrb11vr3orsv/RM150_task2_OFRSurvey_Results_draft_v14.1.docx?dl=0
>> https://www.dropbox.com/s/54aawedgwfr13tc/SEFCRI_FIA_3_Year_Summary_%20Report-FINAL%20SEP_02_2015.pdf?dl=0
>> https://www.dropbox.com/s/8maf15wjg79kztp/Walker2012SEFLBiogeo.pdf?dl=0
>> https://www.dropbox.com/s/8gj32vo6cj01bgx/WalkerGilliam2013MartinMapping..pdf?dl=0
>> Sincerely,
>> Brian
>> Brian K. Walker, Ph.D.
>> Research Scientist
>> GIS and Spatial Ecology Lab
>> Nova Southeastern University
>> Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography
>> 8000 N. Ocean Drive, Dania Beach, FL 33004
>> http://www.nova.edu/ocean/overview/faculty-staff-profiles/brian_walker.html
>> http://cnso.nova.edu/research/labs/walker.html
>> http://ofr.marineplanner.io/
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov [mailto:
>> coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of William Precht
>> Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2015 6:50 PM
>> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>> Subject: [Coral-List] Fwd: interesting thoughts from Tom Goreau
>> The comments by Tom Goreau in Doug Fenner's post are so far off the mark
>> that one should not have to respond - but in the defense of Gene Shinn let
>> me make a few points.
>> Gene is not a paid consultant for any of the purported "black hats" Tom
>> mentions.  Gene is a retired Civil Servant that spent years as one of our
>> country's premier coral reef scientists (for the USGS).  My reading of
>> Gene's original post -- He was standing up for science, not emotional
>> rhetoric or hype. Gene doesn't have a dog in the fight.
>> As for Gene's knowledge of the resource in question -- Gene was one of the
>> first to dive and snorkel the reefs and hardbottom communities of south
>> Florida.  He grew up in the Key West, was a University of Miami
>> undergraduate student (having graduated from there in the late 1950's).  He
>> was surrounded by all those Univ. Miami professors who have recently passed
>> that Tom mentions.  Gene was on the US National spearfishing team - honing
>> most of his skills in south Florida.  Gene also worked in Shell Oil's
>> carbonate research lab headed by Bob Ginsburg in Coral Gables in the
>> 1960's. In 1966 he received a best paper award from the Journal of
>> Paleontology for growth rates of* Acropora cervicornis*.  Following on,
>> Gene headed up the USGS lab at Fisher Island for some 15 years in the
>> 1970's and 1980's. For three decades- from the late 1950's through around
>> 1990 Gene probably spent as much time underwater as anyone in south
>> Florida. So to say Gene doesn't know the local history of corals and/or
>> reefs in the area or just wasn't around to see them (or wasn't paying
>> attention) is not just an insult but a disingenuous lie.
>> Second, for Tom Goreau to say that reefs off Miami were there in the
>> recent past (pre-1960's) but have been destroyed recently by man is also
>> contrary to the published record.
>> Much of the original work that systematically described the geology and
>> the organisms found in and around the coral reefs of the Florida Keys was
>> reported in a series of publications by T. Wayland Vaughan (1909, 1910,
>> 1911, 1912, 1914a, 1914b, 1914c, 1914d, 1915a, 1915b, 1916, 1918, 1919).
>> These papers, almost without exception, noted that Fowey Rocks (south of
>> Miami) was the northern terminus of the reef growth. Vaughan specifically
>> commented that: (1) the main reef building coral species of *Acropora
>> palmata* and *Orbicella annularis* were essentially absent from areas
>> north of Fowey Rocks due to cold water limitations; (2) Fowey Rocks was the
>> northernmost limit of constructional bank reefs that built their structures
>> to sea level; and (3) while there are some living reef corals in the
>> vicinity of and to the north of Fowey Rocks, there was no thriving reef.
>> Here is just one excerpt from one of those papers - Vaughan (1916) PNAS
>> "Dr. H. F. Moore of the U. S. Bureau of Fisheries has communicated to me
>> temperature records made at lighthouses along the Florida reef.
>> These show that vigorous reefs will endure a temperature as low as 18.15°
>> C., the minimum at Carysfort light between 1879 and 1899; but at Fowey
>> Rock, where the minimum drops to 15.6°C. although there are some corals,
>> there is no thriving reef. The species found at the north end of the reef
>> line are those which Dr. Mayer's experiments showed capable of withstanding
>> the lowest temperature. The temperature records for the reef line indicate
>> 18.15°C. as the minimum temperature which a reef will survive-this is
>> 1.85°C. lower than the figure given by Dana."
>> Following the classic works of Vaughan, the next publication to discuss
>> the northern limit of reef growth in Florida can be found in the writings
>> of F.G. Walton Smith, founder of the Marine Laboratory at the University of
>> Miami (now the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science).  Smith
>> (1948) in his classic book "Atlantic Reef Corals" detailed the
>> distribution of modern reefs in Florida that extend from Miami in the
>> north, to the Dry Tortugas in the south and west. He stated “The reefs do
>> not extend north of Fowey Rocks for two reasons: the drop in temperature as
>> one travels north, and a southward drift of siliceous sands which kill or
>> restrict coral growth by silting action.”  BTW - this 1948 description of
>> southward moving sands was written well more than two decades prior to the
>> first beach nourishment project Tom mentions.
>> Gil Voss also regularly noted in his papers and books that Fowey Rocks
>> south of Miami was the northern limit of reef growth. The following passage
>> is an excerpt from a 1955 paper by Voss and Voss in BMS on the ecology of
>> Soldier Key.
>> "Thus Soldier Key is an isolated island bordered on the east by
>> waters with an average depth of about 20 feet extending to Fowey
>> Rocks, 3 miles distant, which marks the drop off into the deep
>> waters of the Florida Current. Fowey Rocks also marks the northernmost
>> extension of the Florida Barrier Reef."
>> Around the same time, University of Miami geologist Robert N. Ginsburg
>> published his now classic manuscript on the environmental relationships of
>> carbonate sediments from south Florida.  Ginsburg (1956) identified Fowey
>> Rocks as the northern terminus of the Florida Reef Tract (see his Figure 4)
>> citing lower winter temperatures as the cause.  However, according to
>> Ginsburg (also discussed in Glynn 1973), the northernmost outpost of
>> flourishing reefs in historical times was to the south of Fowey Rocks at
>> Carysfort Reef off Key Largo. Ginsburg (1956) specifically noted that “the
>> most numerous flourishing reefs which reach near the low-water mark are
>> found south of Carysfort Reef.  From Pacific Reef to Fowey Rocks the outer
>> reef consists of elongate rocky shoals with a relatively small amount of
>> living coral.”
>> Later in the 1980’s a series of papers were published describing the
>> conditions favorable for coral reef development in south Florida.  One of
>> these was a spectacular community profile report published by Walt Jaap
>> (1984) in which he noted that “The region of maximum coral reef
>> development is restricted to south and west of Cape Florida (Fowey
>> Rocks)…”  In specifically addressing the area from Palm Beach to Miami
>> (Cape Florida), he stated “elements of the tropical coral reef biota become
>> increasingly important in a north-to-south gradient; however, the building
>> of three-dimensional reef structures does not occur.  This area is
>> characterized as an octocoral-dominated hardground community.”
>> Similarly, Burns (1985) identified the reef system of Florida to extend
>> from the Dry Tortugas to Fowey Rocks.  He noted that the reefs in Biscayne
>> National Park – those that live just south of their latitudinal extent –
>> have low coral diversity, cover, and abundance due to sub-optimum
>> conditions for reef-building corals.  In addition, Porter (1987) noted that
>> from north to south on the east coast of Florida, Fowey Rocks is the
>> location of the “first appearance of all the (coral) species in shallow
>> water. Reef development by these species begins slightly farther south, in
>> Biscayne National Park, at 25o25’ N latitude.”
>> I believe Gene was making the point about low coral cover in the region,
>> not as an excuse for development, but to put an earlier post in context as
>> it is on this template that various infrastructure projects, for better or
>> worse, are being performed.
>> Sometimes it helps to actually read the literature instead of just making
>> stuff up or calling on the ghost's of researchers past.
>> Cheers,
>> Bill
>> --
> Douglas Fenner
> Contractor with Ocean Associates, Inc.
> PO Box 7390
> Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799  USA
> phone 1 684 622-7084
> Join the International Society for Reef Studies.  Membership includes a
> subscription to the journal Coral Reefs, there are discounts for pdf
> subscriptions and developing countries.  www.fit.edu/isrs/
> "Belief in climate change is optional, participation is not."- Jim Beever..
>  "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts."-
> Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
> Global warming 'hiatus' trashed by new study.
> http://www.rtcc.org/2015/09/17/global-warming-hiatus-trashed-by-new-study/
> King Coal and the queen of subsidies
> (total subsidies for coal worldwide exceed $3 Trillion.)
> http://www.sciencemag.org/content/349/6254/1286.full?utm_campaign=email-sci-toc
> Worst-case scenario: if we burn all remaining fossil fuels, Antarctica
> would melt entirely, raise sea level 200 feet.
> http://www.newsweek.com/worst-case-scenario-if-we-burn-all-remaining-fossil-fuels-antarctica-would-371280
> website:  http://independent.academia.edu/DouglasFenner
> blog: http://ocean.si.edu/blog/reefs-american-samoa-story-hope
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

More information about the Coral-List mailing list