[Coral-List] Parrotfishes and coral reef health

Billy Causey - NOAA Federal billy.causey at noaa.gov
Mon Feb 20 10:09:36 EST 2017

Thank you for attaching these papers.  I did not abandon this conversation
with you, Peter, Les, Judy and others, but was driving 415 miles from
Central Florida to the Keys and could not keep up.

Speaking of Central Florida and the Keys, my wife and I have a ranch in the
Middle of the State, surrounded by climate change deniers, whereas around
my home in the Keys, people see the issues caused by climate change and it
was the commercial fishermen that agreed with me in 1979-1980 that
environmental conditions were changing.

The stories are not the same for every community, just as the impacts
change (e.g. pine beetles killing pines during droughts, lengthy droughts
etc) for areas like around my ranch.  Yet, people go out of their way to be
critical of anyone espousing the problems with a changing climate.

I am in this for the long-haul and would like to help in some way to shape
messages based on real examples to reach a broader audience.  During the GW
Bush administrations I was cautioned routinely about giving talks on the cc
impacts to coral reefs.  Finally, we came to agreement that I could
describe what our monitoring and science was revealing, but I could not
assign blame.  That gave me plenty of room in which I could operate.

Count me in on helping in any way possible!  BTW, we have a Governor in
Florida that does not believe climate change is real.


Sent from my iPhone

On Feb 19, 2017, at 4:54 PM, Tim McClanahan <tmcclanahan at wcs.org> wrote:

Thanks Francesco

That is interesting and probably not unlike many other reefs in the WIO.  I
attached too broad surveys that will give you some context.  Unfortunately,
I have not had much luck getting anyone in the Seychelles interested in the
urchin story too much. Nick Graham may start to have more interest as we
work together on similar problems and now that he is lead author on an
urchin-related paper, he may start to measure these things.  The urchin
data in the Current Biology paper is mine collected in many other sites.


On Sun, Feb 19, 2017 at 1:50 AM, Francesco Cinelli <posi2donia at gmail.com>

> Dear friends,
> I spent last week in the Seychelles. I went snorkeling in Parslin, La
> Digue, and some other small islands. I saw only completely dead reef.
> Someone understands the reason for this and what were the causes of recent
> or past and if someone is doing something for this? The bottom is
> completely flooded with sea urchins and most of the fish is represented by
> herbivores. I was shocked. I know very well the Maldives, the Chagos
> islands and of course the Red Sea, but I've never seen a situation similar
> to that of the Seychelles. I add some photos. Francis
> Prof. Francesco L. CINELLI
> Professor on Marine Ecology
> University of Pisa - Italy
> President of the Scientific Council of the International School for
> Scientific Diving (ISSDONLUS) "Anna Proietti Zolla"
> Member of the AAUS (American Academy of Underwater Science)
> Past President of the International Academy of Underwater Sciences and
> Tecniques
> Home address:
> Via De Amicis, 39
> 50053 EMPOLI (FI)- Italy
> Mob. +39.335.7110149 <+39%20335%20711%200149>
> posi2donia at gmail.com
> fcinelli at pec.it
> www.issdonlus.it <http://www.issd.it/>
> www.u <http://www.accasub.it/>nderwateracademy.org
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> 2017-02-18 17:31 GMT+01:00 Billy Causey - NOAA Federal <
> billy.causey at noaa.gov>:
>> Peter,
>> You, Judy and Tim, and a few others, have been right on track. I have
>> been following this thread and communication and find some
>> explanations way off the mark.
>> In my estimation, coral decline continues to be the synergy between
>> the impacts of climate change, land-based sources if pollution,
>> habitat loss and degradation and overfishing.  Considering that
>> overfishing affects the food chain and removal of important reef
>> species such as the grazers.  And, I don't have time to start on the
>> problems of fish traps and how they can remove important reef species
>> that make up a robust reef fish community.
>> Personally, I have added a fifth cause of reef community decline and
>> in the Wider Caribbean that is Lionfish.
>> Keep the good messages pouring in Peter, Judy and Tim and others.
>> Billy
>> Sent from my iPhone
>> > On Feb 17, 2017, at 5:25 PM, Peter Sale <sale at uwindsor.ca> wrote:
>> >
>> > Kudos to Tim McClanahan, in particular, for quietly reintroducing a
>> touch of realism into this discussion.  Coral reef decline is proceeding
>> around the world, but seems to me to be particularly severe in the
>> Caribbean.  (Perhaps that is because of the relatively small number of
>> primary reef builders in that system, some of which have been savagely hit
>> by disease.)  The decline is caused by many concurrent stressors (Judy
>> Lang's post hit most of them in one sentence).  The relative importance of
>> these stressors varies from place to place, and from time to time.  The
>> long-term trajectory looks very bleak.
>> >
>> > I doubt any of you disagree with my first paragraph.  But if we reef
>> scientists, and particularly the reef ecologists amongst us, cannot
>> remember that this is a case of simultaneous, possibly synergistic,
>> stressors acting in different ways on different species when we discuss
>> what is happening, how can we expect other people to comprehend the
>> magnitude of the problem?  To spend lines and lines of text on coral-list
>> debating whether or not parrotfish grazing is to blame (as if one factor
>> will be the leading cause of decline across time and space) cheapens the
>> discussion and reduces any chance of articulating clearly what is needed to
>> gain some improvement.  We can all do better.
>> >
>> > And please, let us stop reducing the concept of herbivory, by
>> parrotfishes, sea urchins or anybody else, to a simple binary interaction
>> between the grazer and the macroalgae, with the corals waiting patiently on
>> the outcome..  What utter nonsense.  It's been well documented in numerous
>> marine environments that algae of different species respond differently to
>> grazing pressure.  Most macroalgae escape most of the herbivore guild
>> through growth, so that the suite of herbivores that might keep a bare site
>> free of anything other than a fine algal turf is quite incapable of
>> returning a lush stand of macroalgae to that fine turf state.  Different
>> species of macroalgae are differentially palatable to different species of
>> herbivore, are differentially impacted by pollution, by nutrients, by
>> storms.  I could go on.  Even understanding the algal-herbivore interaction
>> requires much more subtle ecological insights than are evident when all
>> parrotfishes and all algae are considered inte
>>  rch
>> > angeable.  If we do not improve the way in which we talk about the loss
>> of living coral on our coral reefs, we diminish the chance of really
>> understanding what is happening, or potentially discovering effective
>> management actions.  We are all capable of elevating the level of
>> discourse.  If the world is destined to lose most of its coral reefs this
>> century, I'd like to think that at minimum, we had at least learned what
>> was happening, and could articulate what would have been needed to prevent
>> that eventual demise.  We cannot learn from our mistakes without
>> understanding clearly what has happened, and the eventual demise of coral
>> reefs, if it does happen, needs to become a teachable moment.
>> >
>> > Peter Sale
>> > University of Windsor
>> >
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Tim McClanahan, PhD
Senior Conservation Zoologist
Wildlife Conservation Society
Coral Reef Conservation
Kibaki Flats no.12
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Mombasa, Kenya
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Cell Phone: Kenya +254 (0) 792 765 720 and 725 546 822
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Research papers, methods, and talks


<Graham et al. Curr Biol 2017 cover.pdf>



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