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

Douglas Fenner douglasfennertassi at gmail.com
Fri Mar 24 20:15:56 EDT 2017

And that takes me back to my point, that reefs (Calcium buildups) are not
alive.  Can a piece of basalt or granite be "senile"?  A better analogy
than granite would be a stalactite.  As water carrying super saturated
CaCO3 percolates down though cracks in rocks above a cave, it runs in tiny
trickles down the sides of stalactites and CaCO3 precipitates on it and
adds to the formation.  So the stalactite gets larger and people may say it
"grows."  But it is not alive, "grows" is only an analogy.  Water stops in
drought, stalactite no longer gets larger.  Is it "senile"?  Did it just
"die"?  If new water comes that is pure rainwater, it will start to
dissolve the stalactite, which will get smaller.  Is it "dying"?  No.  You
can't die if you're not alive.  You can't be "senile" unless you are
alive.  Rocks aren't senile, they don't die.  Living organisms die,
inanimate objects don't.  Can granite get up and dance?  Reproduce?  I
don't think so, and these terms are misleading, especially to those who
don't realize the difference.

    Cheers,  Doug

On Thu, Mar 23, 2017 at 2:30 AM, Chris Perry <chris.t.perry at gmail.com>

> 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.
> Cheers
> Chris
> Geography,
> 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>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8; format=flowed
> 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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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

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