[Coral-List] Ghosts reefs in Florida Keys

Benjamin Neal benjaminpneal at gmail.com
Fri Nov 10 14:18:05 EST 2017

Hi Gene - excellent questions! I wonder
​some of ​
this as well as an author
and will enjoy seeing the answers. These very issues were the subject of
much debate as we assembled the data. ​

Hand-drawn maps are not modern data sources as we have today, and were
​in fact ​
based on viewing glasses, tallow and sounding leads, and rowed transects,
but are compelling because they provide the only paper record from this far
back. Certainly cores and sediment analysis add to our image of what was
there centuries ago, but I still find it compelling that there are
documented areas
​I am familiar with ​
which appear to have become so changed over the years that we no longer
even count them as locations that could support healthy and extensive coral
growth. Our view of the ecological possibilities of the system
​may thus be
myopic, which is the main point of the paper.

One other point of interest to me was that the three modern sources we used
also did not agree,
​quite ​
notably in some places, and were not all field verified
​ either​
.. To be conservative, we used a compilation of all of them as the 'modern
record' of coral cover, but these disparities should make us view modern
​of large complex systems ​
​some ​
healthy caution as well.

Thanks for reading the paper
​ - I like how you have framed your comments as open questions and look
forward to comments.

Cheers, Ben Neal


*Benjamin P NealPostdoctoral Research ScientistBigelow Laboratory for Ocean
Sciences60 Bigelow Drive, P.O. Box 380East Boothbay, Maine 04544  *
*Office: 1-207-315-2567 x413*

On Fri, Nov 10, 2017 at 12:01 PM, Eugene Shinn <eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>

> I gather the 2017 paper, /Ghost reefs: Nautical charts document large
> spatial scale of coral reef loss of 240 years/, by McClenachan et. al.
> was not based on field work or local knowledge of Florida Keys reefs.
> One should view identification of coral species and health from 240 year
> old maritime maps with caution. Can one trust coral species
> identifications made from a boat or pressed into the tallow of a lead
> sounding weight?Historical maps may be accurate enough to determine
> historical water depths but coral abundance and species? Gene
> --
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