[Coral-List] Evidence that ocean warming has caused most Caribbean, coral loss

Eugene Shinn eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu
Mon May 8 14:06:48 EDT 2017

More on African dust. Those of you who were active coral researchers in 
the 1980s will remember that 1983 was a banner year and also a strong El 
Nino year. It was the year /Diadema/ populations collapsed throughout 
the Caribbean, It was the Year Sea fan disease began and /Acroporid/ 
coral diseases peaked throughout the Caribbean including the Florida. 
Keys. In addition I have been told the scallop industry along the 
northeast USA collapsed that year. I recall corals on the Pacific side 
of Central America bleached but do not recall 1983 being a particularly 
warm year elsewhere in the Caribbean especially at San Salvador Island 
which is surrounded by 4,000 meter deep oceanic water flushed by the 
Antilles current. Significantly /Acroporid /corals, both Staghorn and 
Elkhorn, corals along with /Diadema/ died within a few months around the 
island in 1983. The corals growing at San Salvador was monitored by 
researchers at the Finger Lakes Marine laboratory (now Gerace lab). When 
the corals abruptly died from disease their demise was not preceded by a 
bleaching event. I supposed there must be water temperature records from 
that time taken by lab workers. I do not recall anyone at the lab 
wondering if coral disease had been related to unusual SST. But there is 

San Salvador Island supports a thin rich red soil called Pineapple Loam. 
The soils red color is due to iron rich clay minerals that overlie 
limestone. Deep core borings in the Bahamas show the limestone is about 
15,000 ft., thick. Normally iron rich clay soils are sourced from upland 
mountainous areas and spread by river systems. There are no rivers in 
the Bahamas and no high ground. I well remember an archeologist I met on 
San Salvador in 1984 who provided me with shards of red/brown clay pots 
he had recovered during his digs. To make such pottery requires clay. 
Clay is mixed with water, shaped and then fired to make it harden. One 
cannot make pottery from calcium carbonate mud. The archeologist 
explained to me that the pottery was made from soil dust scraped from 
smooth rock surfaces. Gee I wonder where it came from way out there in 
the Atlantic surrounded by deep oceanic depths? Of course the pottery 
was hundreds of years old but corals had flourished there before 1983. 
The mystery deepens. Gene


No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
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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
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