[Coral-List] Fwd: interesting thoughts from Tom Goreau
dennis.hubbard at oberlin.edu
Mon Sep 21 17:41:59 EDT 2015
This isn't aimed at you...... reef corals are *not* equivalent to coral
reefs.... and this is not a semantic difference unless one assumes that a
lot of corals will necessarily equate to a thick reef.
On Fri, Sep 18, 2015 at 7:50 PM, 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
> 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:
> and you can see Mike Greenberg´s (Jerry´s son) incredible zoomable image of
> the staghorn area at:
> 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
> > 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
> > consider the old literature as infallible. They did not have many of the
> > tools and resources at their fingertips that we have today, especially
> > regard to regional remote sensing and mapping data. It is more
> > 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
> > whomever is interested in the communities and the changes along the
> > 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
> > learn from past mistakes, even if it requires substantial changes in the
> > present procedures.
> > https://www.dropbox.com/s/8maf15wjg79kztp/Walker2012SEFLBiogeo.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://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
> > 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
> > 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).
> > was surrounded by all those Univ. Miami professors who have recently
> > that Tom mentions. Gene was on the US National spearfishing team -
> > 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
> > northernmost limit of constructional bank reefs that built their
> > 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
> > the lowest temperature. The temperature records for the reef line
> > 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
> > Miami (now the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science).
> > (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
> > 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
> > 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
> > 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
> > carbonate sediments from south Florida. Ginsburg (1956) identified Fowey
> > Rocks as the northern terminus of the Florida Reef Tract (see his Figure
> > 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
> > most numerous flourishing reefs which reach near the low-water mark are
> > found south of Carysfort Reef. From Pacific Reef to Fowey Rocks the
> > 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
> > increasingly important in a north-to-south gradient; however, the
> > 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
> > 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
> > 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,
> > 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
> > it is on this template that various infrastructure projects, for better
> > 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
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> "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts."-
> Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
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> website: http://independent.academia.edu/DouglasFenner
> blog: http://ocean.si.edu/blog/reefs-american-samoa-story-hope
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