[Coral-List] Reefs of the Past: Videos of coral reefs of Florida Keys (1987) and Cuba (1970s)

Pawlik, Joseph pawlikj at uncw.edu
Mon Oct 9 10:53:29 EDT 2017

Greetings, all,

The "Pawlik Lab" YouTube channel is hosting three videos that document Reefs of the Past.

These videos are an important reminder of what Florida Keys and Cuban coral reefs looked like only a few decades ago.

Also, the Grecian and Dry Rocks videos captured the reef just as bleaching and disease were beginning their final assault on the living reef in 1987.

Really interesting, but more than a little depressing.

FKNMS, Dry Rocks, "Christ of the Deep" Statue, Pennekamp Park, Key Largo, Florida, 1987


FKNMS, Grecian Rocks, Pennekamp Park, Key Largo, Florida, 1987


Cuban coral reefs, 1970s:


These videos were transcribed from VHS tapes provided by Dr. Vassil Zlatarski (a regular coral-list contributor and expert on corals both recent and fossilized).  Dr. Zlatarski played a major role in filming each of these and contacted me about having them uploaded to YouTube for educational purposes.

Information for each video is in the video description, including time-stamp information that was provided by Dr. Zlatarski.

If you have questions about the films, you can contact Dr. Zlatarski here: vzlatarski at gmail.com<mailto:vzlatarski at gmail.com>

Some of you who teach courses related to Coral Reef Ecology may wish to show these videos to students who have only experienced Caribbean reefs of the past decade.

Don't miss a young(er) Dr. Gene Shinn at 1:15 in the Grecian Rocks video giving a mini-lecture about the geology of reefs of the Florida Keys!

The Cuba video is a remarkable product of its time -- the background music seems to be a distinctive form of jazz, and the dive gear can only now be seen in museums.

Acroporid corals were still doing very well in Pennekamp Park (Dry Rocks and Grecian) in 1987, but both of these videos document the beginning of the end, with highlighted reference to recently bleached and diseased corals.  Note the extend and form of the fire corals as well. The sense of optimism for coral recovery expressed in the video is heartbreaking in retrospect.  Hurricane Andrew hit the northern Keys in 1992.

My group began working annually on a reef site just north of Dry Rocks less than 10 years after this video was taken, and living coral cover was a tiny fraction of what is shown in this video (although the coral rubble at the site provided plenty of evidence of what had been there).

Also surprising in these videos is the appearance of large sharks and groupers -- neither of which were around 10 years later.

Editing of the automatic closed-captioning is ongoing and should be done soon.




Joseph R. Pawlik

Frank Hawkins Kenan Distinguished Professor of Marine Biology

Dept. of Biology and Marine Biology

UNCW Center for Marine Science

5600 Marvin K Moss Lane

Wilmington, NC  28409

Office:(910)962-2377; Cell:(910)232-3579

Website: http://people.uncw.edu/pawlikj/index.html

PDFs: http://people.uncw.edu/pawlikj/pubs2.html

Video Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/skndiver011


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