[Coral-List] he GBR is in trouble, but not dead

Douglas Fenner douglasfennertassi at gmail.com
Wed Mar 22 16:20:32 EDT 2017

   Thanks, I agree.  One little point.  The original meaning of the term
"reef" is a hard object that sticks up in the water far enough that you can
smash your boat on it.  So "Bligh Reef" IS indeed a reef, a classic case of
a reef.  That one can also be called a "rocky reef" (it's in cold water and
is certainly not a coral reef).  Calling coral reefs "reefs" is a common
practice, we all do it.  But it is sloppy.  Coral reefs are only one kind
of reef.  We need to use words that distinguish what we're talking about.
We need to be explicit and not use one general term, like "reef" for a
whole bunch of different things, since we're assuming our readers will just
know by osmosis which thing we mean.  Among reefs produced by living
things, there are not only coral reefs, but worm reefs, algal reefs, etc,
and among fossil reefs a bunch more like rudist bivalve reefs, sponge
reefs, etc.  Plus, when we say "coral reef" often coralline algae are major
contributors (though highly variable from location to location ).  And
there are two major components of a coral reef, one calcium carbonate that
has never been alive and so can't die, and the living ecosystem, which is
alive and certainly can die (or more likely transform to a different kind
of ecosystem like an algae bed).
    Let's do more distinguishing, and less sloppy terms (like "reef" or
even "coral reef") that could mean a variety of different things.  We need
to lift our game and be more careful in the terms we use.

     Cheers,  Doug

On Wed, Mar 22, 2017 at 3:51 AM, Eugene Shinn <eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>

> Ellen Prager points out a significant problem when dealing with the
> press.If you are not careful you can easily get burned by an over
> zealous environmental writer and headline writer. She rightly makes the
> point that headlines for a story are often written by specialist other
> than the writer who wrote the story. The headline is written to grab the
> attention of the reader. Remember they are also in the business of
> selling newspapers and as the reader knows, readership is suffering and
> newspapers are going out of business almost daily. Some years ago I was
> badly burned by some lurid headlines. At that time writers received
> extra cash if the Associated Press picks up their story and passes it on
> to other newspapers.Each paper that picked up my story about the effect
> of sewage nutrients on coral reefs created ever more eye-catching
> headlines. “Sewage killing reefs scientist says.” The results were
> unhappy calls from dive shop owners in the keys whose dive trips were
> being cancelled because clients did not want to dive in poop. It was
> most embarrassing.
> Reef researchers have for years wrestled with how to define reefs.
> Biologists and geologists see reefs differently and the average reader
> can become confused by terms like bioherm, biostrome, or even live rock.
> Remember when that big tanker grounded on “Bligh Reef” in Cook inlet
> Alaska? So-called Bligh reef is simply a submerged mountaintop. It is
> not a reef but the confusion affected people in the Florida Keys who did
> not know the difference. Even sandbars have been called reefs. In fact
> anything that a ship can ground on is often called a reef. It’s just
> maritime lore.
> We discuss this problem in detail in our upcoming book, “Geology of the
> Florida Keys,” coauthored by Barbara Lidz. In the book we invented a
> term for dead or almost dead reefs originally used by Lidz in her
> extensive USGS review of Florida Keys Geology,
> <http://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/2007/1751> For lack of a better term we called
> reefs no longer growing “senile reefs.” We can’t predict what a news
> writer might do with that term but we could not think of anything better
> at the time. As many readers know, Florida reefs are indeed suffering
> senility. Hopefully most will recover their former vitality. It will be
> interesting to see what a news writer might do with those terms, or for
> that matter, readers of the coral-list. Lets see, “Reefs in the keys
> can’t think straight” or “they forget who they are.” Gene
> --
> 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
> ---------------------------------- -----------------------------------
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

Douglas Fenner
Contractor for NOAA NMFS, and consultant
"have regulator, will travel"
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, and there are discounts for pdf
subscriptions and developing countries.  Coral Reefs is the only journal
that is ALL coral reef articles, and it has amazingly LOW prices compared
to other journals.  Check it out!  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.

Study: Stopping global warming only way to save coral reefs.

'Extreme and unusual' climate trends continue after record 2016.

US Republican idea for tax on carbon makes climate sense


More information about the Coral-List mailing list