[Coral-List] An extensive reef system at the Amazon River mouth

Rodrigo Leão de Moura moura.uesc at gmail.com
Tue Apr 26 17:32:39 EDT 2016

Professor Shinn, I appreciate your wise comments about the long term
resilience of reefs and the large scale of our ignorance about these
ancient and fascinating ecosystems. However, I would like to add that the
concerns with oil & gas drilling expressed in "The Atlantic" article and in
our paper go beyond the immediate impacts from local damage from drilling
itself. Brazil's response capabilities to oil spills and mining disasters
are very limited, and we are currently haunted by large scale contamination
of drainages and coastal ecosystems, including our unique Abrolhos reef
system (www.abrolhos.org). As you are probably aware, despite our economy's
size, Brazil's democracy is not as stable as it should be, institutions are
overall weak, and environmental agencies have very limited reach. If an
accident occurs in the very dynamic Amazon shelf, we might take several
months before starting to respond appropriately. There is a rush towards
hydrocarbons in the Amazon shelf, including expensive and high-risk
deep-water drilling, and it is expected that compatible investments on
research, conservation, and environmental management (e.g. fisheries) are
also made. It is indeed surprising that the Amazon reefs were not
considered in previous EIAs from oil companies...  From my humble
perspective, another neglected issue in terms of the environmental and
social impacts of oil & gas exploitation is the sudden flow of millions of
dollars in regions that suffer from extreme poverty and endemic corruption.
I strongly believe that well-informed pressures and a close watch from the
international community, especially scientists, might help us change this
sad status quo.

Here are a few "references" to the points I am raising. Could fill several
pages with evidence supporting my statements.

Warm Regards, Rodrigo





*Rodrigo Leão de Moura, Dr.*
Professor Adjunto, Instituto de Biologia
Pesquisador Associado ao SAGE/COPPE
Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro

http://www.abrolhos.org <http://www.mouralab.org/>

cel: + 55 (21) 99609-2724        skype: r.moura

2016-04-26 15:38 GMT-03:00 Eugene Shinn <eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>:

> The rediscovery of a deep “reef” off the mouth of the Amazon is
> certainly an exciting newsmaker that once again demonstrates how little
> we really know about corals and their growth requirements. That there
> are corals living there is not all that surprising. Any geologist who
> has examined ancient reefs, whether built by corals or sponges, is aware
> that many in the past grew in the presence of muddy sediment. From the
> depths reported, (up to 125 meters), it seems clear the Brazilian reef
> tract began growing during the last glaciation when global sea level was
> approximately 125 m below present.The Amazon River at that time would
> likely have been much different. If the flow was anything like today it
> would probably have been focused through a narrow gap in the old reef
> line before discharging into deep water. Detailed seismic mapping of the
> area that most likely already exists, would reveal where that flow was
> concentrated.
> Old shorelines consisting of beach dunes occur at similar depths around
> much of the Gulf of Mexico as well as along the eastern seaboard off the
> Florida Keys. It does not seem surprising that a rock ridge hosting many
> reef organisms should exist off the Brazilian coast beneath the Amazon
> mud plume. Ironically millions have been spent over the years on
> research related to possible effects of drilling mud on live corals and
> other bottom organisms near oil wells. Because of that concern
> exploration drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is precluded from hard bottom
> topographic accumulations created by natural oil and gas seepage. Such
> features host a multitude of chemosynthetic organisms including
> deep-water corals, worms, clams and crustaceans. I found it interesting
> that the /Atlantic/ article ends with concern that oil exploration might
> occur on this reef beneath the amazons mud plume. Gene
> http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/04/scientists-discover-a-new-coral-reef-at-the-amazons-mouth/479259/?utm_source=yahoo
> --
> 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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