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

Chris Perry chris.t.perry at gmail.com
Thu Mar 23 09:30:15 EDT 2017

Hi, I rarely dip my toe into this forum, but just to add that I think many
reef geomorphologists quite like the term senile to describe such
situations of reefs ceasing to accrete (or senescent is favoured by some -
and has been suggested to me by some reviewers). It is, however, also worth
saying that this term was actually first (as far as I know) used back in
the early 1980's by David Hopley in his classic book on the GBR - this in
the context of describing the evolutionary states of GBR reefs ... so it is
a term now well grounded in the literature.



Amory Building,
University of Exeter ,
Exeter, EX4 4RJ

Message: 1
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2017 10:51:38 -0400
From: Eugene Shinn <eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>
Subject: [Coral-List] he GBR is in trouble, but not dead
To: "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov" <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Message-ID: <ec30b25d-bb3f-2803-c2bc-616e206e92b8 at mail.usf.edu>
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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

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