[Coral-List] coral reefs in the news

Maria Beger m.beger at uq.edu.au
Mon Jul 17 09:11:21 EDT 2017

Dear Doug and All, 

I am really glad to see the renewed focus of reef scientists on the fate of remote coral atolls in the Marshall Islands, and I want to add a few points…

The northern Marshall Islands were exposed to nuclear testing several decades ago (1946 -1958) and it wasn’t just Bikini that was effected, tests were also conducted on Enewetak.  The radio-active plume resulting from the tests, particularly the Bravo H-bomb test on Bikini in 1954, has also affected many other atoll communities in the northern RMI.  These test were, and still are, a human rights disaster and while research in the long-term effects of these tests is interesting and important, we need to remember that the thriving reefs we study are thriving because the rightful occupants lost their way of life “for the good of mankind”.  

Reading the latest news on this, I find it odd that people are surprised to find good reefs with lots of fish in a place that has had no direct human impact (ie fishing or sewage) for decades.  All our efforts to conserve reefs are based on the expectation that if you don't kill fish or trash corals, they will recover.  Why would nuclear test sites be any different, particularly with water being a radiation screen? The effects of testing on corals are probably mostly mechanical, described in this paper: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/ccdd/7639cc57c09ae4077ee6cf855ed9a7012e8c.pdf ; 
it will be interesting to see what the genetic long-term effects of fallout are.  Our paper also shows that some lagoonal species were lost (or their abundance was very low).  It is also clear that not fishing results in intact fish community compositions and high biomass of predators, see https://academic.oup.com/icesjms/article-abstract/doi/10.1093/icesjms/fsx043/3091776/Subsistence-harvesting-by-a-small-community-does  In addition, we show that the subsistence fishing of small Marshallese communities, such as the people of Ailuk who also were exposed to high radiation levels during testing, can also maintain such intact community compositions. 

If people are keen to read more about the history of Bikini, I can recommend the book “For the good of mankind” by Jack Niedenthal.  

Cheers Maria 

On 16/07/2017 9:40 pm, "coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov on behalf of Douglas Fenner" <coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov on behalf of douglasfennertassi at gmail.com> wrote:

    Researchers find coral reefs in a place they shouldn't exist
    'Remarkable': Scientists amazed by thriving marine life at Bikini Atoll
    site where 23 atomic bombs were dropped
    Climate change is killing what's left of our beautiful coral reefs.
    Cheers, Doug
    Douglas Fenner
    Contractor for NOAA NMFS Protected Species, and consultant
    PO Box 7390
    Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799  USA
    phone 1 684 622-7084
    New online open-access field guide to 300 coral species in Chagos, Indian
    Coral-List mailing list
    Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov

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